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Ellen DeGeneres gifts $10,000 to gay BYU student who came out in viral commencement speech

Matthew Easton says he went public with his sexuality in honor of a student who committed suicide

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Matthew Easton and Ellen DeGeneres on ‘Ellen.’

Matthew Easton, the Brigham Young University valedictorian who came out during his commencement speech, appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” where he emotionally explained why he chose to come out publicly at graduation.

Easton, who is a 24-year-old political science major, was already out to his friends and family but he came out publicly in his graduation speech at BYU’s College of Family, Home and Social Science. The speech has received more than 200,000 views on YouTube.

“This is a new chapter in my life. I’m graduating and I want to live more authentically, live more honestly,” Easton told DeGeneres. “And more than that, I want to give visibility to the other students who are gay who maybe aren’t so ready to come out … I was so ready to do it.”

Easton explained BYU’s strict honor code to DeGeneres, which prevented her from asking certain details about his private life. He says physical contact between two people of the same sex, even a handshake, could be seen as an inappropriate gesture and get a student expelled.

He also says he decided to come out publicly in honor of a gay BYU student he knew who came out on Facebook. The student faced intense backlash and ended up committing suicide.

“I saw him do that, and I thought, ’Is that my future?” Easton tearfully recalls. “Is that what I’m heading toward?’ So I thought, if I came out at graduation, maybe a student like me—a freshman—gets to know that my future is something brighter. We can succeed. We can do what we want, accomplish our dreams.”

Easton has plans to move to Salt Lake City and hopes to get more involved in the LGBTQ community. He also is interested in heading to D.C. one day to put his political science degree to use. At the end of the interview, DeGeneres presents Easton with a check for $10,000.

Watch below.

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Arts & Entertainment

André Leon Talley dies at 73

Iconic Black fashion journalist was born in D.C.

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André Leon Talley being interviewed in the 1990's (Screenshot via YouTube)

André Leon Talley, a formidable iconic fashion journalist and the former creative director and one-time editor-at-large of Vogue magazine, passed away at age 73 of unspecified causes at a hospital in White Plains, an inner suburb of New York City in Westchester County, New York.

News of the famed fashion journalist’s death Tuesday was first reported by celebrity news and gossip site TMZ.

Talley was known for his close friendships with designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Tracy Reese, Rachel Roy, and singer/actress Jennifer Hudson, and Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour among others.

Talley worked at Vogue during an unprecedented time of growth in the fashion industry in the 1980’s and 1990’s. From 1983 until late 1987, he was the magazine’s the news director and was then promoted to Vogue’s creative director in 1988, a post he held until 1995. He later came back to the magazine in 1998 as the editor-at-large until his departure in 2013.

Born in D.C. on Oct. 16, 1948 and raised in North Carolina, Talley graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French Literature in 1970 from North Carolina Central University. He later attended Brown University, after he was awarded a scholarship, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in French Literature in 1972.

Talley’s early career as a journalist saw him working at Andy Warhol’s Factory and Interview magazine. He later became the Paris bureau chief for Women’s Wear Daily.

His later career saw Talley hosting his own radio show principally concerned with fashion and pop culture on Sirius XM. He also released a book “The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir” on May 19, 2020, which detailed his early career start and some of the issues he encountered as a Black man.

Talley was also an LGBTQ icon. When asked about his sexual orientation by daytime chat show host Wendy Williams during a May 29, 2018 appearance, he stated, No, I’m not heterosexual; I’m saying I’m fluid in my sexuality, darling.”

André Leon Talley, fashion’s godfather | fashion icon profile:

VideoFashion profile in 2020 marking of the release of André Leon Talley’s memoir, “THE CHIFFON TRENCHES.”

André Leon Talley | full address | Oxford Union:

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Out & About

DC Center to host estate planning seminar series

Three sessions presented by Murray Scheel

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The DC Center hosts a series of talks on end-of-life planning next week.

The DC Center for the LGBT Community and the DC Department on Aging and Community Living will host “Estate Planning Tools with Murray Scheel” via Zoom. 

Scheel will walk guests through the process of taking care of the end-of-life planning business that needs to be addressed during the golden years. Scheel is Senior Staff Attorney at Whitman-Walker Health’s Legal Services.

This event series will consist of three 1.5-hour sessions:

Jan. 19, 3 p.m. – “Tools for while you’re living” (overview, general power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, disposition of remains, etc.)

Jan. 26, 3 p.m. – “Tools for after you’re gone” (living wills, last wills, assets, etc.)

Feb. 2, 3 p.m. – “Healthcare insurance & long term care” (Medicare, Medicaid, correcting misinformation, skilled nursing, hospice care, etc.)

To register for this event, visit the DC Center website.

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Out & About

DC Center to host legal seminar for trans people

Attorney Richard Tappan and paralegal Miranda Shipman to give legal advice

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The DC Center for the LGBT Community will host a “Gender and Name Change Legal Seminar” on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. online. 

Attorney Richard Tappan and paralegal Miranda Shipman will give legal advice and speak on the importance of the legal community within the LGBTQ community, the difficulties of the LGBTQ community in the legal field and name and gender changes. 

Guests can find the link at the DC Center website.

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