Jacob Whipple Leaving Utah

One of Utah’s most prominent gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights activists will be leaving the state in August.

“Work came and asked if I would apply for a new trainer position that opened in Charlotte [North Carolina], I did and they gave me an offer,” said Jacob Whipple, who works for home automation manufacturer Control4.

Whipple became a leading player in Utah’s gay and transgender rights movement shortly after the passage of California’s Proposition 8 in 2008. In just a few days after the state re-banned same-sex marriage, Whipple organized a protest around Temple Square. The Friday night march drew thousands of participants and dominated local news coverage throughout the weekend. After founding the grassroots gay rights group All For One Initiative, Whipple helped to organize a number of community service events including General Service Weekend (held the same Sunday as April’s LDS General Conference) and a quarterly town hall meeting between leaders of various gay, transgender and allied organizations and the general public. Today, the meetings exist as regular gatherings among queer leaders and leaders from the Pacific Islander and Hispanic communities. Whipple also assisted Reed Cowan and the team behind the Proposition 8 documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Whipple said he will move in mid-August. For now, he said he is traveling to Charlotte periodically to tour the facility where he will train Control4 workers to install and program the company’s home control programs and applications.

“First and foremost, I’m going to miss my friends,” said Whipple. “I’ve been here for nearly a decade and I’ve been able to almost literally handpick the best people that I’ve met in Utah and call them my closest and best friends.”

“Aside from that, being a public figure I’ve gotten to know a lot of people and I’m going to miss all the contacts and networking I’ve been able to accumulate while I’ve been here. I’m going to go out to North Carolina and not know anybody. I’m going to have to start from scratch … [and] prove myself all over again. I’ve been here awhile and I’ve done some great things and people know of that at least, but in moving no one is going to know me or what I’m capable of.”

He noted that doing so may be difficult because Charlotte is a long way away from Raleigh, where the bulk of the state’s gay and transgender organizations, including Equality North Carolina, are located.

“The legislative efforts on Capitol Hill will be a lot more difficult for me to participate in.” As a result, Whipple said that he has considered becoming more involved with fundraising efforts.

Reflecting on his decade in Utah, Whipple said that he was thankful for the support he received from local gay and transgender people, particularly when he was coming out of the closet as a BYU student. He is also proud to have been a part of what he sees as a powerful change in the Utah gay and transgender rights movement after Proposition 8’s passage.

“I like to think that I was an instigator and an organizer. I was able to push that energy in a direction and give that energy a form it didn’t have before,” he said. “And by doing so I was able to see it grow into this incredible movement it is now. I can’t take credit for everything it’s accomplished at this point, and of course I’m not the first person to have done that, but my snowball merged with other snowballs and now look at Utah. Look at us.”

“Troy Williams [QSaltLake columnist and local activist] said that Utah is a great place to cut your teeth in regards to activism, and I completely agree with that,” Whipple continued. “I don’t think I could have eve tried what I accomplished in Utah anywhere else there’s this perfect combination of a large gay community and a community of social awareness, and that energy and momentum to actually fight for something we believe in. I hope to take all the lessons and experiences I’ve been able to get easily in Utah and apply them to North Carolina when I get out there.”

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