While in San Francisco for a gig, out singer, ex-mormon and survivor of ex-gay therapy, Justin Utley spent an afternoon with Mike Enders for a catch up interview and jam session in the park. While interview stays playful, Justin and Mike touch base on some serious issues surrounding the mormon church. Through a year of ups and downs, Justin tells an encouraging and uplifting story about where his own personal journey of coming out of the closet and leaving the mormon church has helped the life of others including a gay 17 year and his family.
Justin has a few project in the works to look out for this year, we will keep you in the loop on all of that. Check out the full interview below along with two songs Justin serenaded Mike with in the park including one cover by James and an original song he wrote after exiting ex-gay therapy called “Good-Bye, Good-Bye.”
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New York City based singer-songwriter Justin Utley is quickly gaining momentum as a sought-after national performer, and icon within the LGBT community. As an ‘out’ ex-Mormon, Justin speaks candidly about his life and experiences through his inspiring storytelling and powerful, entertaining music.Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Justin Utley began his career as a Mormon-Contemporary singer/songwriter, touring throughout the west United States to mostly religious and faith-based audiences during the late-1990’s. In 2002, he was a featured performer at the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics, and earned numerous awards during his time in Utah, including “Best Singer and Songwriter” by Salt Lake City Weekly and “Best New Artist” by Indie Review Monthly. The Utah native also composed and performed the theme song to the Emmy Award-winning PBS movie “The Shadow of Light”, as well as other independent films.After publicly breaking ties with the Mormon Church and sending his own “self-excommunication letter”, Justin became a noted activist and advocate for civil rights and LGBT equality in the United States, and an outspoken personality against the Mormon church’s use of conversion therapy, a method Utley endured for two years after serving a two-year full-time mission for the church. In June 2010, Utley released Stand for Something – a single written to inspire and motivate to take action towards securing LGBT equality in America, ending youth homelessness, and increasing community awareness. The single was nominated by the LGBT Academy Of Recording Arts for 4 OutMusic Awards, including Best Songwriter and Artist of the Year, winning Best Country/Folk Song of the Year. Another version of the single was released in October 2010 which included two additional live tracks and an acoustic version of songs from the album ‘Runaway’.Theatrically, his credits include a seven-month Utah regional run as “Joseph” in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2001–2002) and as leading man “Radames” in the Utah premiere of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Broadway hit Aida (2005). Later, he would leave his Mormon-inherited religion behind, relocate to Manhattan and debut in the New York City theater scene as “Tommy Dautry” in the musical Our Country (2009). The show garnered the Best Musical, and Justin as Best Actor awards for the Planet Connections Theater Festivity. The show went on to be featured in the New York Musical Theater Festival in the summer of 2010.