Growing up, Justin Utley always felt different. Eventually, he came to the realization that he was gay, and after his mission trip, a custom when reaching adulthood in the Mormon church, he came out to his bishop and began to take steps to love and accept himself. Eventually, he met a man named Brett and began building a life with him. Tragically, Brett passed away from a heart attack, which Justin learned about while he was at work. Shortly after Brett’s death, Justin was called into his boss’ office and asked directly if he is gay. After Justin confirmed, his boss told him she never would have hired him if she knew, and she gave him a two-week notice of termination.
Justin eventually testified at the statehouse about his experiences when Utah was considering passage of employment and housing protections for LGBTQ people — protections that are now law. “Gay and transgender Utahns are vulnerable to unfair employment and housing discrimination like I experienced,” Justin said. “My orientation is not a choice and does not define who I am. We should work together to build a state that we can all be proud of.”