Salmon's future had been mapped out for him, and for years, he tried not to be gay. He prayed, fasted, repented, and attended therapy. None of it stopped his attractions to men, and for a long time, he says he felt "doomed to Hell."

He was conflicted politically, too. He'd been raised in a family and a religion opposed to gay rights; the idea that homosexuality was wrong was so ingrained in him that even at age 18 — four years after he'd come out to his mom — he voted "yes" in 2006 on Proposition 107, the proposed same-sex marriage ban his mother championed.

Many Republican politicians, including Kolbe and Giuliano, had to launch their careers from the closet, coming out only after years in office. But Matt Salmon is already out — out of the closet, out of the Mormon Church, and out to change the face of a political party increasingly dominated by the religious right.

Former state legislator Steve May, who recently withdrew from the 2010 race, remains one of Arizona's most prominent gay Republicans.
Jamie Peachey
Former state legislator Steve May, who recently withdrew from the 2010 race, remains one of Arizona's most prominent gay Republicans.
Arizona politicians who've been "out" in office include former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano.
Jamie Peachey
Arizona politicians who've been "out" in office include former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano.

Being out has come at a cost. His relationship with his parents is strained. He's left the church in which he was raised, and his siblings stopped speaking to him for a while.

Salmon has a confident energy and outspokenness that's sometimes taken for arrogance, but he often seems mature beyond his years. Despite his boyish looks, one would think he's much older when he says things like, "It's taken me 20 years to accept who I am and go against the way I raised."


On a Saturday morning in August, Matt Salmon and his boyfriend, Kent Flake, sit inside Dolce Espresso, sipping iced coffees and watching the movie Dreamgirls on a plasma TV. The quaint, strip-mall coffee shop on East Camelback Road is one of Salmon's favorite haunts. Since starting medical school this fall at Midwestern University in Glendale, he goes there to study and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi.

Both Salmon and Flake are dressed in baggy shorts and T-shirts, waiting for bagels with cream cheese. Salmon's short blond hair is freshly gelled and spiked into a little faux-hawk. With his bright blue eyes, gleaming white smile, and athletic build, he could easily fit in a boy-band publicity photo. At 22, he's still got a baby face. People have always told him he's cute.

Flake works in interior design, and he's studying for a bachelor's degree in nursing at the Chamberlain College of Nursing in Phoenix. He's taller, thinner, and four years older than Salmon, with close-cropped brown hair, brown eyes, and braces on his teeth. The braces were one of the first things Salmon noticed.

"I thought they were kind of adorable," he says.

Salmon and Flake live together in an apartment near 16th Street and Osborn Road. The apartment building exterior is hot pink, a screaming bright spot amidst the surrounding ivy-covered white and beige buildings.

Their apartment is tidy and cozy. Living room furniture consists of a TV, two matching couches, a coffee table, and an entry table displaying a framed picture of the couple. There are a few decorations on the walls, including a painting of the ocean they bought in California, a black-and-white sketch of the Roman Coliseum, and a painting of two birds cuddling on a branch titled Unconditional Love.

There's a small patio out back, and a garden where they're growing tomatoes, chili peppers, basil, mint, and flowers. They have two dogs, a pug named Javier and a young boxer/border collie mix named Jim.

Salmon and Flake have a lot in common. They both love long boarding and snowboarding, they're both working toward medical careers, and they're both vegetarian. Both want to get married and have children. And like Salmon, Flake grew up in a devoutly Mormon family. Flake's parents and siblings live in Snowflake, a tiny conservative Mormon town in northeastern Arizona named for the family. No one in Kent's immediate family is a politician, but the Flake family has produced prominent Republicans, like late state senator Jake Flake and his nephew, U.S. Congressman Jeff Flake.

Congressman Flake is Kent's second cousin, and like Matt J. Salmon, he votes to the right. In 2006, he voted for an amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. He voted against HR 1592 in 2007, which proposed including sexual orientation in the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He voted "no" this year on repealing "don't ask, don't tell."

Matt Salmon and Kent Flake were familiar with each other's families but had never met when Flake sent Salmon a Facebook friend request in November.

"I heard his name a lot, because my aunt and uncle talk about his dad all the time, because my aunt and uncle are obsessed with his dad," Flake says on a recent Tuesday night, pressing a cheese sandwich into the couple's panini maker. "I found out the gay thing after I friended him, and I was like, 'Okay, that works.'"

Flake had never told anyone he was gay, but Salmon suspected it right away. "My Facebook shows that I'm gay," Salmon says. "I'm thinking, for a Mormon male to be adding an out, gay male is very suspicious."

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263 comments
Myname
Myname

I wonder which one is the "girl" in that relationship! Haha!

MM
MM

I don't have any kids yet, and sometimes I worry I'll screw up parenting. But then I read this and take comfort in the fact that I would never do to my children what the Salmons and the Flakes did to their sons. I honestly can't understand how people could treat their families this way.

Imanoid2
Imanoid2

It could not have happened to nicer, right wing, Mormons. For all those that prayed that Salman's kids might grow up gay, prayer does work. For over 40 years the state legislature has been under the control of republicans and Mormons. Though an occasional Dem has held the governor's seat, we all KNOW that all they can do is sign or veto bills. Now, we are in the worst shape this state has ever been in. Thanks again to the policies of the republican/Mormon cabal that runs this state's legislature. To hell with their gay problems. This state is last in education, health care for the indigent, etc. But, the governor signed a health care program that pays for her molester son's care in the state hospital with her line item veto pen. Way to go, brain dead, Brewer.

Twinkie
Twinkie

So, because he is gay, this bright young man's mother and father have a 'strained' relationship with him and his siblings stopped speaking to him for a while. That, absolutely, is their loss, not his.

Arizonarocks
Arizonarocks

"There were a lot of us 10 years ago that prayed one of Matt Salmon's kids would turn out gay," says Steve May Nice steve.

um yeah can we get a picture of the two of your kissing for the cover.... yeah and maybe one of you could sit on the other ones lap... thats the money shot... its a wrap.

Bill
Bill

After reading the story I admit that I am confused as to the point. Was it that you can be gay and still be a Republican? Or was it an expose on the son of a prominent Mormon politician coming out of the closet? As a conservative and as a Mormon, my NATURAL tendency was to assume the latter. However (and my whole point in posting), the most redeeming information in the story was Matt's comment at the very end about how it took him 20 years to come to grips with his lifestyle and he could appreciate the fact that it might take his parents some time as well.

I think people on BOTH sides of this issue could learn from that. I have definite beliefs that I know not everybody shares. I have very real and personal reasons for holding and reinforcing those beliefs that I don't expect everybody to understand. Conversely, I don't understand the gay lifestyle and don't want to be expected to understand it. However, I can associate with individuals who are gay, respect them for the good they contribute to an organization or society as a whole and as long as their lifestyle and/or belief system doesn't infringe upon my rights or my pursuit of happiness, I can honestly say, I am fine with them choosing to live life as they desire. When their lifestyle and/or belief system in some way (in my perception) imposes upon my rights or my pursuit of happiness, then there needs to be rational discourse and I need to expend energy to try to understand the other's point of view and would expect the same of the other side.

This is my first time commenting on a story in any publication but have been an avid reader of many stories surrounding gay marriage (and other issues) and the various comments posted from either side. As a general rule (and there are always exceptions), the comments from BOTH sides are very much intended to intimidate or belittle the opposite side. Can't we all just allow each other to take some time (and make an effort) to understand each other?

Azmiike
Azmiike

Wow, how do you like that, the article alludes to the fact that maybe the notable Republicans in the story should be ashamed that their progeny or relations are gay. How typically liberal; spewing out of both sides of their sleazy mouths.

Robin Fletcher
Robin Fletcher

Gays supporting Republicans...not very different from rape victims supporting the neighborhood rapist and black Americans supporting the KKK.

Merski
Merski

This is one messed up, conflicted dude. Log Cabin Republicans, what a joke. More like Jews for Hitler.

TomBlunt
TomBlunt

This whole article reads as if Matt wrote it about himself, by himself. I'm sure he loves the attention.

GEORGE
GEORGE

Stay out of politics - you who don't know right from wrong.

Sean Smith
Sean Smith

Yup! Keep hating the gays. There's this thing in life call Karma. The more hate you got the more you'll be confronted. Hate is never about someone else but yourself. Like masturbation it's a self gratification act in a very bad way. It might not literally make you blind. But intellectually and spiritually you are.

None
None

Yo Randy_blackmer - please, we don't subscribe to your delusion. Why is it that you obvious a gay man think straight guys are all curious? "May like it a lot?"

Feel the need to go on and on about it & actually get mad trying to prove your point. Put your hand on the wrong man Randy-your going to get your clock cleaned.

Randy_blackmer
Randy_blackmer

Sounds like their are a whole lot of "straight guys out there" that are actually "curious". Watch out straight man, you may like it alot.

Randy_blackmer
Randy_blackmer

Thank God that we can now see that all religions, all faiths and all people are not compelled to be straight. Some try very hard to be what they percieve as the expectation of parents and their religious leaders. And why wreck a spouses life trying to be straight. Explore you sexuality and enjoy it, it is a part of you, you can not change it. Their is no cosmetic surgery to add alittle here and take away alittle there. Too bad the Mormon church is not better educated and up to date on real life, I feel sorry for all Mormons.

Jzonieee
Jzonieee

Holy Crap! Like I want to see a pic of 2 dudes kissing. Disgusting! Pics of unnatural acts is not news! If mother nature doesn't support it = not natural, no matter how much you try to brainwash yourself into thinking that it is. Your life, your choice, I'm fine with. But a spade is a spade and don't call it something else. :)

Mesa Mike
Mesa Mike

Speaking of Homosexuals, how about Benji? He steals the article of a Cincinati writer, plants it in a Scottsdale testerone laden sophmoric rag to make him look masculine. He fakes a family photo.... classic closet gay ploy. Hires a wife, and lives at Mommy and Daddy's house in Paradice Valley.

None
None

Repulsive.

MStrat
MStrat

This story was on a radio talk show in DC, and that's how I found out about it.

Wishing you two all the best in your relationship.

--Mike

F. Allen
F. Allen

Oh big whoop. There are way more important things going on than whose son likes to plow whose nephew's back forty. This is just a bunch of irrelevant gossip.

ByteRider
ByteRider

True. I don't know you. What do I know is your community, your life style, and the many issues that surround both.

So, if you donated blood around 18 or 19, did you know you were gay then?

ByteRider
ByteRider

Untrue [about anal sex]. Where there are heterosexuals that do, they are probably even more in the minority than homosexuals (let's face it, Mike, NO ONE has stats on THAT particular subject). But (all pun intended) because anal cancer is more representative in the gay community, I would ball-park it and say anal sex was not common among heteros. Anal Cancer is common in people who regularly participate in poo-fun. Eww... even a 5 yo old knows to stay away from someone else's poo, Mike.. I mean, dude... seriously. Get a grip.

On Paul's Staff
On Paul's Staff

Please don't forget our most popular gay politician. PAUL BABEU. Gay Republican Sheriff for Pinal County. Ask him, don't listen to silly comments here. PAUL IS GAY. If he would do like responsible practicioners, he would admit it and move on with his political life. Another time we will visit with you about the ages of some of his male lovers.

swk88
swk88

hmm anyone else think this article is a little biased? apparently if you're not pro-gay anti-religion you're wrong?

Arizonasux
Arizonasux

What is disgusting about Arizona is not that it has gay politicians. Whatever. What is more important than these people's personal lives is their political stances, whether those stances benefit Arizonans in general, and how they spend their time in the legislature on the public dime. What disgusts me about Arizona is how it's OK in this antiquated outpost of a territory for men to be gay and be in politics but for women's rights and issues to be so anathema to the legislative, political and judicial systems here.

jeb
jeb

wait they rented the movie from redbox? how progressive.

Henry
Henry

I would hope that Arizona someday becomes a little more open and progressive and less run by bigoted individuals motivated by religious insanity.Gayness does not automatically mean that one is feminine and the other masculine. This is an old misconception. Two men can fall in love with each other am make very good partners and contribute every bit or more to society.

I am
I am

Whats sad is the feminization of men in this country our culture is very i'lland it's examples of this lifestyle that is bringing our nation to ruin.If the maker had intended for such a life style, he would have created us all as dual genders.the facts are the facts, if all of us where gay we would become as the Dinasours.I too had desires of sex with boys when young, I think we all have that as we are growing, but I realized that it was not right, and thought why would I want to live such an empty life

I am
I am

yeah like we need more feminiaztion in our Country

Filmscorefan
Filmscorefan

Great comment! Shows the absolute absurdity of "gay" relationships.

Arizonarocks
Arizonarocks

Robin shhhh you will wake the other patients...

Pdog2006
Pdog2006

Randy, I don't need or want your sympathy. You read one ex-Mormon's view and recollection of the church's perception of homosexuals, one that has been edited with some creative license (Matt Jr. would obviously know that "ministers" in the Mormon church are actually called "bishops"). I recall clearly the Sunday that the proposition was briefly discussed in our meeting. No money was ever solicited, although volunteers were accepted to aid in the phone center. Nothing demeaning AT ALL was said about gays. Our bishop even said, and I quote, "If the purpose of this is to target and attack homosexuals, I would not be up here talking about it and I would not support it.". He then went on to define how our faith, and many others, defines marriage -- by it's definition in an official church document called "The Family: A Proclamation To The World" (http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index..... It states that a marriage between a man and woman is ordained of God, and that the family is central to His eternal plan. It was presented on September 23, 1995 by President Gordon B. Hinckley...well before the 2008 election cycle. Our bishop never mentioned "homosexual promiscuity" or anything like it, and I doubt any bishop from the pulpit would. I think, assuming he was quoted accurately, Matt Jr. is being less-than-honest in his portrayal of his former church leaders. Maybe it's retribution to the church after years of feeling guilty, I don't know. Hopefully he and his family can iron things out.

Either way, it's unfortunate that the New Times has chosen to publish another hit piece (indirectly) about the LDS. Until they insist on more accurate reporting and less bias, they'll never be taken too seriously. FOXNEWS.com of the left, maybe?

The Ghost In You
The Ghost In You

Not enough cheese in the state of Wisconsin to go with that whine.

Smarm Seer
Smarm Seer

And the big blue ribbon award for World's Most Ignorant, Venomous Asshole goes to...ByteRider. May the membrane-eating affliction in your brain spread to your ever-flapping poisoned tongue and then rapidly to your righteous rectum. Clearly, no one can save you.

!inthecloset
!inthecloset

Religion is a poison that make minds weak, and enslaves bodies to the collective, amid intonations on baseless fears, uncertainties, and doubts.

ByteRider
ByteRider

As reported by the CDC, Sept. 23rd, 2010: "1 in 5 male homosexuals in America have HIV".

Still feel so open minded about things, Henry? This is a community that espouses promiscuity and debauchery. Proof is in the numbers. Don't take my word for it.. yes.. I am biased, no doubt about it... so, don't listen to me, people, just look at the numbers and forget I even exist.

!inthecloset
!inthecloset

Hell, I've known gay men that you -would not- want to be in a fight with...

Labels suck (except when they don't - geek and proud of it!).

TeoBuneo
TeoBuneo

I think you are just still closeted, thats all. Someone has brainwashed you into believing your desires are wrong and go against your "maker". Sad that you can't just accept yourself for who you obviously are. I known and highly respect many gay men and women. You are wrong though that everyone has desires for the same sex while growing up. I believe I firmly fixated on the fairer sex when in second grade a pair twin girls and I would crawl into an empty 55 gallon barrel and play doctor during recess. We did that often and I'm certain that I fell madly in love with the female during those exquisite hours of forbidden play. My family moved to a ranch that summer and I remember vivid dreams of those wonderful girls and their beautiful bodies when I had to take my nap every afternoon. In the following years I would seek out girls who enjoyed that type recess and after school play, but they were few and far between until my early teens. Never had the slightest interest in males though.

!inthecloset
!inthecloset

Gotta love that binary thinking style, you have there. There must be no dawn, nor any evening in your small world...

If there is one thing I have learned from my study of biology, its that there is no "black and white"; everything is a "shade of gray". To think that sexuality is somehow different, is to be blind to the reality of evolution (which, as a process, can't help but produce gradations).

!inthecloset
!inthecloset

What we citizens need is more sanity, skepticism, rationality and logical thinking - but that will never occur, because that would take effort.

xnfriend
xnfriend

@Filmscorefan  No, it shows absolute ignorance of same-sex relationships.  You and Myname think only in terms of heterosexual patterns of relationship and can't - or don't wish to - think in any other terms, because you hold attitudes against same-sex relationships.  Probably, both of you think women are inferior to men, and you treat your girlfriends/wives/whatever as inferior to you.  How sad for them!  In any case, there is no "girl" in the Flake/Salmon relationship; there are only two men.  Whatever "roles" they take in the relationship are theirs to decide.

Mattrsalmon
Mattrsalmon

Pdog2006, you talk like you know what was said in every meeting around the state. You were not in the meeting I was in that day. I know what I heard, and I heard a high councilman say exactly what Niki quoted. Yes, she inaccurately quoted "minister" but as far as what was said, she got it right on. As you may know, men have a tendency of adding their own interpretation, that is what the councilman did at that time. In no way did Niki claim that every single leader said that over the pulpit, she was however relating a story of my past for which I stopped actively going to church. We all have different experiences, accept that, just because your bishop did not say ignorant things, doesn't mean ignorant things were not said elsewhere.

In no way am I seeking retribution, as it is not something I require here.

ByteRider
ByteRider

Think I'm being harsh, Smarm?

Yesteday the CDC announced, and it was on a lot of headlines, "1 in 5 America homosexual males have HIV".

But the CDC must be filled with homophobic ignorant, venomous assholes too, huh?

How do I UNASSHOLE myself? "Oh, I'm sorry, poo is fun, those 5 yo's were misled by their hetero parents, shame on them". Face it dude, truth hurts.

TruthOut
TruthOut

No, dipshit, as reported by the CDC:

"Nearly one in five gay and bisexual men in 21 major U.S. cities are infected with HIV, and nearly half of them do not know it, U.S. health officials said on Thursday."

They specifically did not state that one in five of all gay men have HIV, as they don't have the stats to back that up.

You must learn to read critically, and to cite accurately. Today - you get a big fat fail.

Guest
Guest

I have a saying: "There is no black and white, the world has every color of the rainbow."

TruthOut
TruthOut

What the CDC actually said was "Nearly one in five gay and bisexual men in 21 major U.S. cities are infected with HIV, and nearly half of them do not know it, U.S. health officials said on Thursday."

They expressly did not apply the statistic to all homosexual males, as the statistics can not be defended in a peer review.

Of note, however, you were discussing the occurance of rectal cancer, not HIV, so what really was your point, other than to demonstrate you can't be trusted to accurately use sources you cite?

 
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