Heather Gay says it feels good to be a 'Bad Mormon'

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Heather Gay, a star on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” has cemented herself as a fan favorite in one of the most buzzy housewives franchises.

Throughout her three seasons on the show, which premiered in 2020, Gay has spoken about her evolution from devout Mormon to divorced mother of three and successful business owner, now openly distanced from the Mormon Church.

Speaking to, Gay says she's continually breaking the ideological shackles that once confined her thinking. She's entered a new era of embracing her true self and pursuing what she really wants out of life — even if it means sharing secrets, something she wasn't raised to do.

“Mormons don’t speak (secrets) to each other. We don’t discuss it with our parents. We don’t discuss it with our children. We have secrets that spouses keep from each other, husbands never disclosed certain oaths to their wives,” Gay continues.


And she’s revealing more than ever in her memoir, “Bad Mormon,” out now, describing her Mormon upbringing, Mormon marriage ... and time as an ex-Mormon housewife. The book offers a drastic juxtaposition between the Heather Gay that once was and the Heather Gay of today.

Ahead of its publication, caught up with Gay to hear about putting the memoir together and what comes next.

Gay says she's 'loved' sharing the book with her 3 daughters

"Writing a memoir consumed my life," Heather Gay tells

There was no distance, she says, between her life and the memoir, especially as she was writing events in real time as they unfolded. As a result, her three teenage daughters have been involved “since day one,” and have read the book.

"I think it gives them a lot of understanding about their parents, why we got divorced, why I made the sacrifices I made and how much they are loved,” she says.

Gay says she “loves” hearing her daughters’ perspective on the book, saying it has deepen their relationship. “It’s really been fun to share who I was when I was their age," she says, adding that she's raising them differently than she was raised. "They’ve also given me an objective opinion where they can view me as a reader and not just as my daughter.”

‘No one talks about it’: How Gay’s family is dealing with the book

A large portion of the memoir is devoted to Gay's marriage to ex-husband Frank William Gay. Their divorce was finalized in 2015. Speaking to the Salt Lake City Tribune in 2015, Gay said she knew from "day three" of her marriage that she "didn't want to grow old" with her ex-husband, and that she "suppressed every personal instinct in order to be a good wife and a good mother, but it didn’t work out.”

Frank William Gay isn't mentioned much on the show, but plays into the memoir. Gay says that he hasn’t read the book to her knowledge, and that “no one really talks about” the book in her family.

“I’m amicable with him and with his parents, the girls’ grandparents. I’ve referenced (the book), but it just gets skipped right over. It’s the elephant in the room," she says.

The same goes for her "Housewives" tenure: "None of it is really acknowledged. It has zero value in my community and in my inner circle."

How does Gay deal with the rejection of her public life? “It keeps me humble, and it keeps me crazy, so I am the perfect schism of two people,” she says.

"I have been kind of in this box my whole life, and I’ve been striving to be seen and be heard. It’s really in these last few weeks of the book coming out, reading the audiobook and looking at my story from tip to tail that I can see how much I’ve been striving for someone to not discredit my story and my experience,” she says.

She ‘never imagined’ her book would land on the radar of the Mormon Church

Gay felt the stakes were high when writing her memoir. The “fallout” from her words, she says, could be “swift and severe.”

“I didn’t want to say anything that I couldn’t defend with my life, just like I (once) defended the church (of Mormon) with my life. Now, I want to defend my own story, my own experience with the same vulnerability and rawness, because I don’t want anything to be left to chance,” she says.

Gay is already defending her words, as she’s in active litigation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, over her trademark of the book title.

In August 2021, Gay’s company, Heathertainment, Inc., filed a trademark application for the term “Bad Mormon,” initially for use of “bottle openers; beer mugs; coffee mugs; drinking bottles for sports; plastic water bottles sold empty; sports bottles sold empty; squeeze bottles sold empty; travel mugs.”

In January 2023, a second trademark application was filed by Heathertainment, Inc., for the term “Bad Mormon,” “to cover the category of series of printed fiction and non-fiction books on a variety of topics.”

The church is opposing the application, per the Salt Lake City Tribune, saying the trademark "would create a likelihood of confusion, trademark dilution, falsely suggest a connection to the church, and be otherwise deceptive."

“I never imagined in a million years that my little book would be even on the radar of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," Gay says.

She infused the book with pop culture for a reason

Gay took a unique approach to writing the memoir. Readers will notice a dialogue between on the page and secondary italicized commentary alongside them.

She added the extra layer because she “wanted just to really let the reader glimpse into the way I shaped my narrative in the world.”

“I grew up enmeshed in television and reality TV and pop culture, and the birth of Instagram and memes. So I can’t have a reaction to something without being like Kandi (Burruss’ quote), ‘the lies, the lies,’ or just all these things are embedded in me. They’re kind of easter eggs for people that love housewives, love movies, and grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s like I did,” she says.

Gay credits her editorial assistant, John Jardin, for helping her find her voice in the writing process.

“I call him the frog in my pockets in the acknowledgments because it really took someone with an understanding of who I was, but also an outsider’s perspective. All I know is my own tiny little world, and it was smaller than I ever imagined," she says.

“It wasn’t really until 'Housewives' that that was ripped open and I was swept into a different life. So I needed both perspectives to put the pen to the page."

Why she devoted a section to each of the original ‘RHOSLC’ housewives

In “Bad Mormon,” Gay devotes a portion to each of her fellow Season One "RHOSLC," housewives — Meredith Marks, Lisa Barlow, Mary M. Cosby, Whitney Rose and Jen Shah — offering an unvarnished and often positive commentary on what each brought to the show.

While many reality television stars use their memoirs to throw shade at their on-screen foes, Gay took a different approach.

“I really wanted to give a behind-the-scenes view to the readers of what it’s like to be cast in a reality television show. The key part of that was, this is an ensemble cast … I couldn’t exist or have these opportunities without these women. They were the reason there’s a show,” she says.

Gay continues, “I really wanted people to understand how enamored I was with all of these women and how it was just an experience that I never imagined would happen to a girl like me.”

Out of the OG "RHOSLC" housewives, Gay shares that she’d be most excited to read a memoir from Cosby, saying it would be “beyond wild.”

During Seasons One and Two of "RHOSLC," viewers learned of Cosby's backstory: she inherited her family’s church empire after marrying her late grandmother’s second husband.

“(If Cosby wrote a memoir), I would devour it,” Gay says.

Whose memoir she’d be least excited to read? One from her main sparring partner on the show, Barlow.

“It would just be her version of a memoir. It would probably not be raw and vulnerable, which are two of my things that I like to read in a book,” Gay says.

Gay addresses other ‘Housewives’ hot topics and her intention for the future

Like any good Real Housewife, Gay knows how to keep her name in the press … and on the lips of other housewives.

Gay recently told TV Deets that she would love to see Season Three castmate Angie Harrington holding a snowflake for Season Four of "RHOSLC." Harrington has been around since Season One of the show’ but never has snagged an official "housewife" designation, which Gay tells is because “she’s very nice, and she’s very accommodating. It takes a little bit of tooth and a little bit of bitterness, which I don’t think she has enough (of). It’s just that perfect balance.”

“She doesn’t need (to become a full-time housewife). It’s not going to change her life like it’s changed mine. She has her fairytale and she has all the wish fulfillment,” she says.

Gay caused a stir after she unfollowed Teddi Mellencamp (formerly of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”) and Tamra Judge (“The Real Housewives of Orange County”), who host the podcast “Two T’s in a Pod with Teddi Mellencamp and Tamra Judge.”

During a December 2022 episode, the pair noted that Gay “officially unfollowed” them, which Mellencamp deemed “a shame.” Judge said that they had a good time with Gay when they met at BravoCon.

Gay says there's no story here.

“I haven’t heard them talking about me, but I guess all press is good press. Thanks, ladies! At BravoCon, I thought we had a good time in Tamra’s room before we went to an event. It was fun, they were fun, and it was easy hanging out with them. I have no beef,” she says.

With that squashed and three seasons of ”‘RHOSLC” under her belt, the question arises: What’s to come in Gay’s next chapter?

Gay says, “I would love it to be a torrid sex romp called ‘Bad Missionary Position,’ but I know I have more books in me and more things I want to write. I love this process. It feels like a wish fulfillment that I want to perpetuate over and over and over again.”

Looks like we’ll have a lot more to read.

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