The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

December 30, 2013

Gay in Utah: Hostility, acceptance part of life

(Continued)

Jensen said the changing attitude toward gays in the city is prevalent in the number of outspoken critics he has counted during protests at the annual pride festival.

"It's so reduced at this point it's barely noticeable," he said.

Jensen recalls his youth in Utah with hesitation and a bit of remorse, a legacy of his Mormon upbringing that stifled his individuality.

"As a young kid, I remember lying on my bed ... feeling so guilty I wanted to die. I always felt like I just didn't belong," he said.

Jensen left the church about 10 years ago while still hiding his sexuality, unable to come to terms with who he was and feeling unwelcomed by those around him.

And now, living in Salt Lake City — without the guilt, without the judging eyes of others — Jensen and his husband are finally feeling free and rewarded for having waited.

They talked about going elsewhere for their nuptials, maybe Hawaii, "but we wanted to be married in our home state. We just never expected it to happen so soon."

------

Greg Jaboin is raising two teenage children with his partner in Salt Lake City. He grew up in the Boston suburbs, came out after college and moved to Utah in 2005 after meeting partner Steve Kachocki during a work training trip.

He said Utah is a huge shift from Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003. Jaboin, who is black, said people stare more often because of his skin color than because they notice he's gay. Utah is more than 90 percent white.

"They can't get past race to get to sexuality until they see Steve," he said, referring to his white husband.

Steve's former wife lives on the same street, four houses away with her new husband.

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