Heather Gay: A ‘Bad Mormon’ On Bravo’s ‘Real Housewives


For Heather Gay, becoming a cast member of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” was like “drawing a line in the sand” with her identity as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When she joined the Bravo show in 2019, she realized that her decision to quietly leave the faith would become very vocal.

In fact, she knew that many things she hadn’t said in years would finally be said.

For three seasons, fans of the reality show (and there are many) have watched bubbly and witty Ms. Gay, who was divorced when she joined the show, flirt with men, party and criticizing his former religion – breaking the rules. openly.

But “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” is responsible for some of the most dramatic storylines in the franchise — one cast member pleaded guilty to widespread fraud in federal court and another is married to her stepfather — and Ms. Gay’s struggles with her faith are often relegated to B or even C plots. “Bad Mormon,” Ms. Gay’s new memoir, which will be released February 7, is an opportunity for her to explore her own feelings at length.

Ms Gay, 48, details the pain, confusion, shame and depression she experienced during four and a half decades of loyal church membership, and her eventual decision to leave. She says her bishop asked her about her sexual experiences as a teenager (a practice others have spoken about); “preaching eternal life by dying inside” as a missionary in his twenties in the south of France; and go through a decade of zombie existence with her ex-husband.

In June 2022, Ms Gay applied for a trademark over the words “Bad Mormon” to be used on merchandise like beer mugs, shirts and socks. The church opposes the application, saying Ms. Gay’s trademark is intended to “confuse, tarnish and dilute” and that her use of the word “bad” is “misleading in that it falsely represents that the opponent, the church or its members are evil or are otherwise behaving in a manner that is immoral or contrary to the teachings of the Church”. The case is currently scheduled for oral argument in May 2024. The church has not commented on this.

According to Ms Gay

“When the book comes out, there will be no turning back,” Ms Gay said. She was sitting in a swivel chair in front of her laptop in a small office at Beauty Lab + Laser, the medical spa company she founded in Salt Lake City with close friend Dr. Robinson in 2017. Will be. But I am no longer afraid like before,” she said.

For years, Ms Gay said she worked meticulously to maintain the facade of a perfect life.

“She was beautiful and rich and married to this guy with these beautiful children,” said Ms Robinson, 42, who met Ms Gay in 2008 when their daughters were in kindergarten together, adding that she always called him “ queen of moms.

But then, in 2011, Ms Gay’s husband left and the veneer she had built fell apart. They divorced a few years later, a big no-no for church members. She started dating different men, starting a business and drinking alcohol. In 2019, she walked away from the church.

And yet, Ms Gay said: “I was not struck by lightning and I am happier than ever. She said she was currently in the process of having her name expunged from membership records, the final piece of her release.

“I loved God, my friends, my family, that we all believed the exact same things,” she said. “It was very safe. It was the endless family. It informed every choice I made. I believed it was the only way to be happy and saved.

Ms. Gay, the third of six siblings, was born in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, and moved to Denver with her family when she was 5. (Mrs. Gay and her siblings were raised in the church, and most of her family are still fully involved.)

As a teenager, Ms. Gay toed the line, participating in church activities and taking its teachings to heart while surreptitiously trying alcohol, kissing boys and watching banned TV shows and movies like ‘Big Bad’. Mama” when her parents were out, she writes in the book.

Brigham Young University

At 21, she graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in humanities but considered herself a failure because she had not found a husband. Not knowing what to do next, she decided to travel abroad to do missionary work.

After returning to the United States, she married Mr. Gay and gave birth to three daughters, Ashley, Georgia and Annabelle. Cracks in her marriage appeared as early as the honeymoon, she writes, but Ms Gay refused to give up.

Finally, her husband left. “The divorce was the dam that broke,” she said. Ms. Gay felt isolated. Her stress level was very high, she said, and she developed Bell’s palsy, with half of her face becoming temporarily paralyzed. In 2016, single and struggling with her religion, Ms Gay began working in a medical spa business with Ms Robinson, who had left the church many years ago, and became her “non-Mormon guide”.

“I could have really candid conversations with her,” Ms Robinson said. “I think it was scary for her. »

Slowly, Ms. Gay began to distance herself from the church, driven, she says, by divorce, by the church’s treatment of LGBTQ people and women, and by her desire for her daughters to live and love freely. , are not defined by their purity and ability to stay married and have children.

Ms Gay said writing her memoir was the first time she really gave herself space to understand her story and experiences.

At the moment, she is single and not seriously looking for a partner.

“I’m trying to figure out who I am outside of it all,” she said. Her eyes filled with tears. “I don’t know if I’ve ever really been in love because I’ve never really been who I was meant to be. And that makes me sad. I would like to fall in love and have a partner, but I don’t even know how much therapy it will take.

Although Ms. Gay is considered a fan favorite, viewers took issue with her support for fellow cast member Jen Shah, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in federal court in July and was sentenced to six and a half years in prison last month.

“The timing and the circumstances made me particularly likely to blindly support her,” she said over lunch at the Beaumont Bakery and Cafe, minutes from where she grew up.

The cafe is a place she frequents, and it’s only a 10-minute drive from her current home, the house where she lived with her ex-husband and the house where she spent her teenage years with her parents.

She supported Ms Shah for so long, she said, because “I believe in redemption”. Ms. Gay said she also felt responsible for Ms. Shah because she was the one who connected Ms. Shah with the show’s casting directors.

“I felt like I brought her into this and I felt like it exacerbated a lot of her situation,” Ms Gay said.

When Ms. Gay first joined the cast, she reveled in the opportunity to shed some light on herself and her former religion, to stop doing good and finally let herself be a little bad. . Now she recognizes the platform the show has given her to reach out to others who doubt themselves and feel isolated.

The show encouraged her to live to the fullest, she said, and embrace the opportunities she has to be a public figure.

“I don’t have to be the fan favorite,” she said. “I just need a seat at the table for a few more years, to get what I can get, you know? Aspirate the bone marrow. I feel like I’m living on borrowed time. I have to suck up those experiences, good, bad and ugly and just kind of live recklessly.

This article is originally published on nouvelles-dujour.com