A Republican lawmaker in Utah has come out as gay after working with families who lost their LGBTQ children to suicide.
Nathan Ivie, a Utah County Commissioner, posted a four-minute video to his Facebook page saying that he had been fighting his sexuality since age 9.
The forty-year-old also detailed a suicide attempt in his early 20s, and said he wanted to help struggling LGBTQ youth know that life is worth living.
“There’s no easy way to say this, I might as well just jump up and say it — I’m gay,” Ivie, who is also Mormon, said. “That’s my reality and that’s what I need to talk to you about today.”
Ivie said he had spent “decades…wrestling with who I really am,” and that accepting his sexuality had “not been easy.”
“I understand the impact my discoveries have had and will have on others, yet I’m still the same person I’ve always been,” he said. “I hope, to you, this part of my life doesn’t become my defining trait.”
Ivie said that, when he first realized his sexuality at age 9, he “believed there was something wrong with me.”
“I fought from the beginning to find some way to change myself,” Ivie said. “That battle resulted in a failed suicide attempt when I was 22 years old.”
After recovering from what he called a “near tragedy,” Ivie said he “tried to live the life that was expected of me.”
“The truth is, I never felt comfortable in my own skin,” he continued. “I felt I was living someone else’s life rather than my own.”
Ivie said that while he was “as committed today as I have ever been to my faith, family and freedom,” he realized he “could not continue to live a lie. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t right for anyone.”
The politician noted that he and his wife had separated, but that she remains his best friend and they have discussed at length how to “move forward as a different kind of family to fulfill the responsibilities we took on together to our two amazing children.”
Ivie said he was aware that some would neither understand nor accept his announcement, but that he would “continue to serve my county as Utah County commissioner with all of my heart. I know there are haters in every area of our lives, but we cannot let that be what defines us as a community.”
Speaking to the Associated Press, Ivie said his decision to come out was inspired by working with families who have lost LGBTQ children to suicide.
“That really makes you reevaluate your life, and what you’re doing as a leader to prevent that kind of stuff,” he said.
He added that he wanted young LGBTQ people to know that “it’s OK to be different, it’s OK to live authentically. You can be gay and a Republican…. You need to trust that people will love you for who you really are.”
In addition, a photography hobby led to him photographing a same-sex couple for their wedding.
“The love they shared and the way they looked at each other was the same as any other couple,” he said. “It helped me realize, ‘Maybe I’m not broken.’”
Speaking to the Salt Lake Tribune, he noted that “somewhere out there” is a younger version of him, who is contemplating taking their own life, and that he wants them to know that it’s worth continuing to live.
“They need to know that it is,” Ivie said. “They need to know they’re valued, they’re loved.”
Tanner Ainge, who serves alongside Ivie on the Utah County Commission, tweeted his support for Ivie’s announcement.
“My instinct is just to embrace [Nathan],” he tweeted. “Today I stand with him as a friend, valued colleague, and fellow Republican. His story will provide strength and hope to those feeling the lonely despair that almost took his life and has taken too many in our community.”
My instinct is just to embrace @IvieNathan. Today I stand with him as a friend, valued colleague, and fellow Republican.
— Tanner Ainge (@TannerAinge) May 22, 2019