Hey, what ever happened to those gay dudes? You remember the ones: they kissed in front of a Temple in Utah, and then a phalanx of Mormon security guards descended to pull their hair and have them arrested for trespassing.
Everyone freaked out, protests ensued, and eventually charges were dropped. So how’s life been since then? We caught up with Matt Aune, two years after he and Derek landed in the spotlight; and it turns out things have actually been pretty great.
“Relations with my family grew closer because of the incident,” says Matt. “The news report was how my dad found out I was gay. The first thing he said to me was ‘you have nothing to be ashamed about, you were just defending yourself and your partner.’ The next was a string of curse words about finding the SOBs that did it (he’s a gruff guy; Vietnam veteran). Ultimately I really had no reason to worry about coming out to him (Mom already knew). My extended family came out of the wood work in support as well.”
He also bought a house! Him and Derek have been fixing it up, so yay for housegays.
And how’s life for Utah queers in general? “I think being gay in Utah is harder for some than it is for others,” Matt says. “Derek and I are lucky to have supportive friends and family and work at very liberal companies. Living downtown helps too.”
At Salt Lake City’s Pride fest this weekend, attendance hit record levels and the parade has as many entries as the Mormon heritage party. “Our culture is definitely seeing more and more acceptance as the years go on. I think the outpouring of support we received from people after the incident (kiss-ins, etc) show just how much it has grown and what a great place Salt Lake really is.”
So there you have it! Making out in public: the secret to living happily ever after.