From her black eye to her journey out of Mormonism, here’s the real Salt Lake City queen Heather Gay

By Charlie Sawyer

Published Jan 7, 2024 at 09:00 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

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If the Real Housewives franchise was an awards ceremony, The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City would a million per cent win Best Picture. I don’t think a reality TV show cast has ever gripped people the way our ladies in Utah have.

There are iconic women in every season, don’t get me wrong—Luann de Lesseps and Brandi Glanville, I’m looking at you girls—but there’s been something about the Salt Lake City cast that has just captivated X, well queer X, in such an intense and entertaining way.

I’ve always been a Real Housewives stan. I love the sheer audacity these women bring to the screen every week, the bitchiness, the outfits, the ignorance—I eat it all up and leave no crumbs.

But if we’re going to single out one housewife who has helped catapult The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City to Bravo royalty, it would have to be Heather Gay. A woman with many layers, and an alleged assault or two under her belt, let’s delve into the most important things you need to know about Gay. Chiefly, her background in the church, her past relationships, her time on the show, and who on earth gave her a black eye.

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Who is Heather Gay?

Gay is one of the show’s original cast members. She joined the cast in 2019 when the Utah iteration launched. At the time, one of the most interesting things about Gay was how she documented her journey of departing from the Mormon church after having been raised that way. In fact, Gay even served a mission in France when she was young and married in the Mormon Temple.

The mother of two publicly denounced the church, isolating herself and her family in Utah—a state which has often been referred to as the cultural hub of Mormonism. You can pretty much throw a stone there and come across a sister wife or two.

The Housewife even went on to write a best-selling book titled Bad Mormon: A Memoir. In the book, Gay speaks authentically and honestly about her experience leaving the faith, becoming a businesswoman, and her nuanced relationship with God.

Who was Heather Gay married to?

In July 2000, Gay married Frank William Gay III at the Laie Hawaii Temple—a prominent Mormon Temple in Utah. Gay is the grandson of prominent business executive Frank William Gay and nephew of Robert C Gay, a general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

The couple later separated after 11 years of marriage but their divorce was not finalised until 2014, a few years before she joined the Housewives cast.

Some of Gay’s most iconic moments in the show involved her opening up about her sexuality and how, as a middle-aged woman, she was discovering new things about herself. We always love to see a Housewife be truthful and down to earth as well as unhinged. We want the best of both worlds, don’t we?

Who hit Heather Gay?

Season reunions always host some of the juiciest episodes in the series. Normally, all of the women have had some time to fuel their personal rage and come up with receipts from the previous dramas and scandals that have gone down.

One of the most highly anticipated reunion moments of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City in 2023 was when Gay addressed the infamous “black eye” situation. Earlier in season three of the show, Heather stunned her castmates when, after a late night of partying with Jen Shah, 49, and Meredith Marks, 51, in San Diego, she showed up with a shiner on her left eye.

“I don’t know how I got the black eye,” the 40-year-old told Bravo King and reunion maestro Andy Cohen and her fellow costars during the reunion. Gay continued: “I blacked out. I don’t know what happened… I cannot speak to anything other than I walked to my room and I blacked out and I woke up with a black eye.”

People naturally were convinced that there was more to the story, and during the season four finale—which aired on 2 January 2024—we finally got the scorching hot tea.

Gay divulged that former castmate Shah, who is currently in prison after pleading guilty to fraud, was the one responsible for the bruise on her face, but the alum is denying all claims.

In a post on her Instagram story following the finale, Shah wrote: “BRAVO, if I punched Heather in her eye, you guys would have footage to prove it. It’s clear the show can’t live without me since I was brought up at the beginning, middle and end of season 4.”

For a second, can we all appreciate how iconic that episode was when we saw the police searching for Shah in the ladies’ limo:

If you’re already missing the drams, don’t stress, part one of the season four finale drops on 9 January, with part two arriving on 16 January.

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