PROVO, Utah — Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie has publicly come out as gay.
In a video statement he released on Wednesday, the Republican county commissioner disclosed his sexual orientation.
“I’m sharing my story with you today, because I know I need to be honest with my friends, my family and my neighbors in Utah County,” he said. “What I have to say is not easy for me and may not be taken well by everyone who hears that. I understand that.”
Commissioner Ivie then announces he is gay.
“That’s my reality,” he said on the video.
The commissioner said he has spent decades “wrestling with who I am,” but also says he is still the same person he has always been. He detailed a suicide attempt as a young man and announced he is separating with his wife, whom he describes as his best friend and supporter.
Watch the video here:
“I feel liberated,” Commissioner Ivie told FOX 13 shortly after the video was posted.
The commissioner said he has no plans to leave office or leave the Republican party. He said he will push forward on issues like agricultural protection and creating a special court program dealing with domestic violence issues.
Given the deep conservative and religious background of Utah County, Commissioner Ivie said he believed that his constituents would support him.
“I have faith in the people of this county, because the people in this county are good,” he told FOX 13.
On both sides of the political aisle, the commissioner received words of encouragement and support. His fellow commissioner, Tanner Ainge, offered his thoughts:
“Commissioner Ivie is my friend as well as a respected colleague. He has always been a defender of limited government and individual freedom, and will continue to serve our community well, just as he has for the last three years,” said Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork. “I stand by my friend, Nathan, and wish him and his family the very best.”
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson praised him:
“Nathan was my friend yesterday and will be tomorrow. The announcement today doesn’t change my friendship with him and his important role as a Republican Utah County Commissioner,” Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, said. “I wish him and his family the best.”
Lt. Governor Spencer Cox also offered support.
“Nathan and I spoke on the phone a few weeks ago, and I took the chance to express my appreciation for who he is. Abby and I have been friends with Nathan for a long time — he is a genuinely good person and a great county commissioner. Utah is lucky to have him,” he said in a statement.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski offered her words of encouragement:
Commissioner Ivie was outspoken last year about the Freedom Festival’s attempts to ban LGBTQ support groups from participating in the annual parade. The Utah Co. Commission threatened to withhold funding unless the groups were allowed in.
The commissioner said he made the decision to come out himself to help youth who may be struggling with their sexual orientation.
“I think the biggest thing I would say is, ‘You’re valued, you’re loved, you have something incredible to contribute in simply being you,'” he said. “We need that in our community.”
Commissioner Ivie spoke with FOX 13 between meetings on county business, and he insisted he was not adopting labels and his disclosure is one part of himself.
“Life carries on like it always has. I love my horses, my family, my kids. What happens for me is, life goes on like it always does. This doesn’t fundamentally change who I am,” he said. “It’s a small component of me and life carries on.”