How Salt Lake City Became an Unlikely Gay Mecca

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By Hayley Fox
March 24, 2015

Jesse Walker grew up Mormon and gay in an Idaho town, so his visits to the nearest metropolis, Salt Lake City, offered him a glimpse of hope at a real future as an out man.

Walker left the church at 16 and shortly after high school moved to Salt Lake City, where “you can throw a dart and hit a gay person” who left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints because he or she didn’t feel accepted.

“There’s a large population here that have that exact same story,” said Walker, now 39. “That binds a lot of people together here.”

Part of that story for Walker is his ex-wife, whom he was living with in Salt Lake City when he came out to her at 24. He has now lived in the state’s capital for about two decades and has seen the LGBT population in the city explode, not just in numbers but also in visibility. As an artist and a DJ, Walker has been very connected to gay life in the city, he said, and the explosion of youth culture there has helped create an overall more accepting environment.

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