A Gay Man Bares His Soul To Support Anti-Discrimination Laws In Utah
If you’re looking for a video that will move you to tears, then inspire you to push your boundaries, you’ve come to the right place.
Last month, for the first time in their history, officials from Utah agreed to meet with LGBT citizens to hear their experiences of discrimination. One of those people was Justin Utley, a proud, born and bred Utahn who used the opportunity to share his story with the world in an attempt to urge senators and law-makers to protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace.
Raised in a Mormon household, Justin became aware that he was different from an early age, identifying that he was gay at just 10 years old. After coming out to his bishop, he was referred to ‘reparative’ therapy - one of those damaging ‘pray the gay away’ courses that are still legal in countless states across America and countries around the world. When Justin found that the ‘therapy’ hadn’t gone the way the bishop had planned, he painstakingly agreed to be true to himself and soon fell in love with a man called Brent.
While both men kept the details of their relationship a secret, devastation was around the corner. One day, Justin received an email from a friend saying telling him that Brent had suffered a heart attack and had died. Unable to express his grief for fear of his sexuality being publicly exposed, Justin did not even attend the funeral.
But another shock was coming. A wholly unjust shock that makes this tragic story all the more relevant for the discussion around workplace discrimination. Justin’s then manager had been scouring his emails. And had learned of his secret. He was soon asked to pack his things and leave and was told that he would never have been hired in the first place, had his sexuality been known.
Through the rain, Justin has grown and credits three things that have helped keep him strong: the unconditional support of his mother and family, the friends who have kept him from ‘becoming a victim’ and the fact that he is a proud Utahn, who believes in compassion and optimism. He says that he spoke out because many Utahns don’t just have to bring a briefcase to work. “They have to bring a closet as well”.
"My hope is that, together, from this moment on, we can built that bridge of understanding and begin to work together to build a state that we can all be proud of".
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