BYU's valedictorian gave a powerful speech on being gay and religious. Mayor Pete just responded.

Recently, Matty Easton, a political science major at Brigham Young University, came out of the closet during his graduation speech.

BYU is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, informally known as Mormons, and has a strict honor code that has resulted in the punishment of LGBTQ students.

Historically, the church has forbid same-sex marriage and those who practice homosexual activity are denied access to the temple.


“It was in these quiet moments of pain and confusion that I felt another triumph, that of coming to terms, not with who I thought I should be, but who the Lord has made me," Easton told fellow graduates. “As such, I stand before my family, friends and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God."

His admission was greeted by loud applause.

“Four years ago it would have been impossible for me to imagine that I would come out to my entire college," he added. “It is a phenomenal feeling and it is a victory for me in and of itself."

Photo by Sarah Rice / Getty Images

Easton was praised by Democratic presidential hopeful and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“I know that kid is going to make it easier for somebody else," Buttigieg, who is gay, told BuzzFeed News. “Imagine if you're a terrified closeted kid in that audience at BYU and what it does for you to have that student lead that way."

“I don't think someone in [Easton's] position is looking to be celebrated; I think the reason this is so hard for them is they're looking to be accepted," Buttigieg continued.

Buttigieg has a good idea about what Easton is going through. The Afghanistan War veteran put his political career on the line back in 2015 when he came out of the closet while running for reelection as mayor.

Buttigieg won with over 80% of the vote.

“I only had the room to do [this] because people before me had to assert, sometimes militantly, that they shouldn't be suppressed. Otherwise there's no oxygen for somebody like me to do something like this and possibly help someone like that," he said. “All of this is part of a bigger arc."

According to Real Clear Politics, Buttigieg is running in fifth nationally with the support of 6.6% of Democratic primary voters. Joe Biden currently leads with 37.6%, more than double that of second-place Bernie Sanders.

Photo courtesy of Purina® Cat Chow®
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Know someone who’s over 60 and feeling lonely? Help is just a phone call away. Purina Cat Chow has partnered with two non-profits in order to bring senior citizens some much-needed virtual therapy cat visits.

Wait…that’s a thing?

When we think of the term “therapy animal,” most of us are probably inclined to picture a dog. After all, canines dominate the therapy animal field at 94%. Felines, on the other hand, make up part of the other 6% (that’s combined with other animals). Anyone who has experienced that special, soul-soothing bliss that comes from stroking a purring kitty in their lap will tell you: those numbers might be off. Although therapy cats make up a smaller percentage of this segment, cats offer a wide array of positive benefits that make them wonderful therapy animals.

Just ask Roger and Sal – a couple of registered therapy cats – along with their handler Tracy Howell.

Since 2016, Tracy and Roger have been working with Pet Partners®, a non-profit that matches volunteer therapy animals of all kinds with people in need of a furry friend visit, including nursing facilities, assisted living, hospice centers, and children’s hospitals.

Tracy and Roger in 2016; Photo courtesy of Tracy Howell

Sal is a mew addition to the team. But he’s already working very, very hard…putting his head on people’s thighs and letting them massage his paws. What a gig.

According to Pet Partners, who have had more than 1,500 felines registered in their Therapy Animal Program, certain populations prefer cat companions to dogs. For one thing: they’re more compact, and generally more quiet, making lap cuddles a much more Zen experience.

Plus, cats tend to be more particular about who they interact with, which can signal a nice little ego boost. “Cats have a reputation for being selectively affectionate. If a cat likes you, you’re special,” says Moira Smith, Pet Partners staff member, team evaluator, and cat handler.

Basically, it feels really good to be invited into the Cat Club. Some of Roger and Sal’s most loyal fans are, in fact, seniors – in particular, those with dementia.

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Also, if you wore pants that looked like this, people actually thought you were cool.


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