Personal: Last Week was ‘Coming Out Day.’ This is Best Coming Out Memory

A day late. But here is the coming out story I remember most. It was at the annual high school gathering called Boy's State. Two hundred of the best high school students gathered for a three-day conference. I was debating my friend, Thomas Wright, the Chair of the Republican Party in the Shepard Ballroom at Weber State. I was the head Democrat. Thomas and I had tangled many times before--we knew the drill and we would set up each other's best lines.


We drove up to Ogden together as we did in appearances around the state.

These kids are fired-up about politics. They are mostly rural, very conservative and about 95% Republican. Thomas and I loved to give them a fun fiery political debate. On a podium surrounded by flags and a room blaring with 'Proud to Be an American.'

We took the stage. We slugged it out. With equal measure of laughs, good-natured taunting and stirring clashes on issues. Delivered by two men who are genuine friends.

A question from the audience was about gay marriage. A hush came over the room when I said, "FOR gay marriage? I AM gay married."

There was a moment's hesitation in processing my response. This was clearly not information most of the audience expected. Thomas said some kind words on the issue and we moved on to the right to bears arms.

That afternoon as I was walking toward the car a 15 or 16-year-old boy ran over. He quietly asked if he could shake my hand. I said sure. He said that he was from a small school in Utah County and that he had never shaken hands with a gay before. I smiled and we shook hands.

I watched as this boy's lips started to quiver and he got emotional. He whispered out the words, "Senator, I never shook hands with a gay before--except me. Thank you." He turned and ran off to a group of his friends. That's why I serve. It is for the one.