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Bruce was born March 23, 1948 in Twin Falls, Idaho. He was the fifth of six children in a musically inclined Mormon family. He grew up on the family’s farm before moving to Utah to attend Brigham Young University, where he became the director of the Cougar Marching Band. Aided by his faculty advisor Alan Ashton, Bruce even developed a software program to assist with band choreography. 

After completing his BA in Music Education and a MA in Computer Science at BYU, Bruce and Alan Ashton created the word processing program that would eventually be known as WordPerfect – and which arguably changed the relationship between humans and personal computers forever. After Bruce and Alan adapted their software to the IBM platform, it became an international bestseller. Bruce served as chair of the WordPerfect Corporation until the mid-1990s.

Bruce did all the things expected of him as a Mormon. He went on a mission (to Italy), married within the temple, had three sons, and served as a bishopric (presiding council member) in his ward (church). But Bruce knew from a young age that he was gay. After a life-changing trip to Europe when he met his first boyfriend, Bruce and his wife Melanie finally divorced in 1994. Bruce took the enormous proceeds of WordPerfect’s merger with the Novell Corporation, and began dedicating his life to living truthfully, and changing the world.

Bruce’s foundation has provided deep support to a huge variety of arts, environmental, homeless services and LGBTQ organizations.  In 2004, he was Grand Marshall of the Utah Pride parade. He serves on the national board of HRC, and received their National Leadership award in 2008. He was executive producer of the 2007 documentary, For the Bible Tells Me So, and 8: The Mormon Proposition, a film about the Mormon Church’s role in the California Prop 8 campaign. In 2010, President Obama appointed Bruce to the Presidential Advisory Committee of the Arts.

OUTWORDS interviewed Bruce at the rambling estate in Orem, Utah that he shares with his husband, Clint. Bruce was wistful about Utah – a state he loves, but whose dominant religious culture he has come to hate. He and Clint are building a house in Palm Springs, California. Sooner than later, Bruce will leave Utah behind for good.
Bruce Bastian: [00:00:00] Until we decided to put on real people's face and real people's stories to let people know, no, that's not who you're talking about. We are who you're talking about, us. We are your neighbors, we are your friends, we are your coworkers. We are people. We are just real people. We are the people, this will hurt. Until we figured out that we had to have messages
Bruce Bastian: [00:00:30] that were real people, we lost everything. I'm glad they beat that one. That one sounds horrible.
Mason Funk: Before we carry on, let me just have you state and spell your first and last name.
Bruce Bastian: My name is Bruce, B-R-U-C-E, Bastian, B-A-S-T-I-A-N.
Mason Funk: Okay. Can you please tell me your birthdate and where you were born.
Bruce Bastian: [00:01:00] I was born March 23rd, 1948 in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Mason Funk: Okey-dokey. We'll get back to some of these more contemporary issues. First I'd love to go back and have you tell us a bit about your father and your mother and the climate and the culture you were raised in. What was valued, what values did your parents tell you.
Bruce Bastian: [00:01:30] I was raised in a family of six children. I'm the fifth of six. We were pretty conservative, I guess. We were members of the Mormon church. My dad was, more than anything else, my dad was a musician. He had a band, then, as he got older, his orchestra went down to a five piece orchestra. Then it went to a quartet. Then it went to a trio.
Bruce Bastian: [00:02:00] He used to play dances all over south-central Idaho, which is called the magic valley. When I was a teenager I got to see him a few times. My older brothers and sisters have wonderful stories about him and his musician friends and the dances he would play at. He was very popular, very well-liked,
Bruce Bastian: [00:02:30] pretty liberal in thinking, although he was very conservative monetarily. My mother was basically a housewife. She took care of everything including the accounting. My dad brought home the money and she told him how to spend it. That's the way it worked. They were both smart people,
Bruce Bastian: [00:03:00] very respectful people. My dad taught me very early in life to respect people. He was very much against racism that was going on in the '60s. My mother just, - - my mother pretty much kept quiet during all of that. She really admired people for who they really were.
Bruce Bastian: [00:03:30] I learned a lot about just respecting people, respecting the human spirit from my parents.
Mason Funk: I read somewhere that your father would take care of feeding poor people, that you would take care of feeding black musicians who came to town and would get served. Are these stories true?
Bruce Bastian: [00:04:00] The stories are true. The one I like the most is,
Bruce Bastian: I think it was Count Basie. It was either Count Basie or Duke Ellington came to Twin Falls. The place where they played - the big dance they had - was packed. Then afterwards, the black musicians couldn't go into a white restaurant and get dinner. My oldest sister and my oldest brother and my dad got food from the restaurant and basically took it out to the buses.
Bruce Bastian: [00:04:30] That story is true. He was very embarrassed about that whole thing. He owned a grocery store or a farm, and then back to a grocery store and then back to a farm, all the while being a musician. The grocery store and farm were, although they were his main job, we all saw it as his side job.When he owned a grocery store he would have poor people come in and even prostitutes would come in
Bruce Bastian: [00:05:00] asking him for money. He would never give them money but he would always box up food and give him something to eat. He was always helpful to poor people. Again, he never judged them. He didn't look down upon them because they had hard knocks in life. I don't know what he would do today to see how many more homeless people and poor people there are today than when he was in the prime of his life.
Mason Funk: [00:05:30] He wouldn't be one of these people who was saying things like they just want to live off welfare. They're just lazy.
Bruce Bastian: No. He would not say that. I mean, he taught me the value of work. He taught me that if you want to get anywhere in life, you have to work.
Bruce Bastian: [00:06:00] That was a philosophy he really believed in and he shared openly with other people. He also knew that some people.. He didn't have any respect for lazy people, but people who were trying to get ahead, even whatever they could do, he helped them.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Do you have any idea where, I'm always curious, even our interviewee's parents who set good examples for them. I'm always curious if you're able to identify,
Mason Funk: [00:06:30] where did your dad become that person? Who modeled that for him, or do you know that? Who taught him to be that person?
Bruce Bastian: I don't know. His parents, by the time I was old enough to remember, both of his parents were dead. His father was a teacher, which .. I don't know if he didn't like the teaching profession but he just felt like it was not a good way to take care of your family
Bruce Bastian: [00:07:00] because they were always really poor. I don't know if he learned a lot of the values he had because of how he grew up. He grew up in a rather poor family. He also learned a lot from just working with other people and
Bruce Bastian: [00:07:30] learning to respect other people for who they were.A lot of the things that happened to him, he was not.. He was a Mormon. He didn't go to church. Because he was a musician and played in nightclubs, he was frowned upon by a lot of judgmental Mormons who thought he wasn't .. You know. He was hanging out with people who drank and smoked and cursed.
Bruce Bastian: [00:08:00] That was a no-no. Of course they were better than him. Which wasn't fair and wasn't right. I think a lot of the things he believed in, he learned because of how he had been treated during his life.
Mason Funk: So you growing up in this family of six, you're fifth out of six. How did you picture your life as a kid? What did you think you were going to do as you were growing up?
Mason Funk: [00:08:30] What were your aspirations?
Bruce Bastian: When I was growing up, you know, you grew up as a kid, especially as a Mormon kid. A lot of what you're supposed to dream about is told to you. You're not allowed to go sit in a corner and dream.
Bruce Bastian: [00:09:00] I mean . I did. I grew up with expectations of .. My oldest brother was a math and physics genius. Went to work. Went to MIT and got a job with IBM. My oldest sister was an amazing pianist and went to Northwestern on a full scholarship and was going to be a concert pianist until she got married, and that all became history.
Bruce Bastian: [00:09:30] My other brother . Anyway I grew up in a family of very successful older siblings and I kind of thought that's what's going to be my fate. When I first went to college, I majored in math. I hated it, so I changed to music. A lot of my expectations that I had for myself just didn't happen
Bruce Bastian: [00:10:00] the way I envisioned them, which I think is good. I encourage kids. Have ideas, have dreams, whatever. Don't set your mind so stiff that you can't change them. Mine changed all over the place, although you grow up as a Mormon kid you're going to go on a mission. You're going to come home. You're going to marry the woman as your dreams. You're going to have a wonderful marriage of kids.
Bruce Bastian: [00:10:30] That's just what you're supposed to do. Mine had some really weird variations on that story.
Mason Funk: Were you aware when you were growing up that you were not follow, that you were separate from your sexuality which we'll talk about in a minute. Were you just aware that you were a little bit outside the box?
Bruce Bastian: [00:11:00] When I was growing up I knew I was different. I couldn't really figure out why. In the 60s, I grew up in the 60s, nobody talked about homosexuality. I didn't think there was another gay person on earth besides me. I thought I was totally weird.
Bruce Bastian: [00:11:30] I knew I was okay and I was safe to just be a good student, just learn as much as I could, be a good musician. When I was in high school I excelled in everything in math and physics. I excelled in everything in music. Those were my areas. I didn't really date girls. I had a lot of good friends but I just kind of stayed in the safe zone.
Mason Funk: [00:12:00] Yeah, yeah. You go off to, was it Brigham Young?
Bruce Bastian: BYU. I went to BYU.
Mason Funk: Right. As you said, you started off as a math major and hated it and switched to music. Why don't we fast-forward a little bit. Did you do a mission?
Bruce Bastian: I did, but then you were supposed to do a mission when you were 19. I didn't want to. I just really
Bruce Bastian: [00:12:30] had no interest in it. Then I had a lot of friends, I had a few very close friends who gradually got me to the point where, okay, I'll do it. I went on a mission when I was 21.
Mason Funk: Where did you go?
Bruce Bastian: I went to Italy, which is great. I learned Italian. I didn't get along, I mean, I love the Italian people but I couldn't understand
Bruce Bastian: [00:13:00] their devotion to Catholicism. Now I love the Italians and I think, why did you ever try to change them? I did a 180 on that one.
Mason Funk: Right. When along this trajectory did you also begin to feel like, wait a minute, this whole rigid do a mission, come back, get married, marry a woman. When did you start to feel like, uh-oh, we have a problem here. There's a problem here.
Bruce Bastian: [00:13:30] When I got back from my mission When you get back from a mission there's a lot of pressure on you to get married quickly. I really believe that the church has figured out a formula for keeping young men in the church. The more you dictate to them how their lives are supposed to be
Bruce Bastian: [00:14:00] and keep them doing things that keep them in the church, then you keep them as good tithe-paying Mormons. I came back and I went back to BYU. I had no interest in dating girls. I still didn't. I didn't want to and I didn't do it.When I was 25, the church came out with a statement
Bruce Bastian: [00:14:30] that said if you were 25 or over and male and single, you were a detriment to society. I thought, really? That was kind of a (thud) So I started really thinking about things.
Bruce Bastian: [00:15:00] I actually started to tell good friends that I thought I was attracted to men and not women. I hadn't done anything. I was still very much a virgin in every way. I was trying to just figure out if that You know How would that be absorbed? What would people think if I suddenly started to even suggest that I might be gay?
Bruce Bastian: [00:15:30] That didn't really help much. Because when I was then When I was, what? 28? 26? 28? I got married. I married a woman who was one of my dearest friends. We had never dated. We had just hung out as really good friends.
Bruce Bastian: [00:16:00] She was an amazing woman and a terrific mother, but, you know, I could never really be a full husband to her. When I finally did I finally met When I was in my 30s I met a boy that I fell in love with. People say, "What happened? What happened?" It was a kiss. It was just something
Bruce Bastian: [00:16:30] as simple as a kiss. When you finally kiss someone that When the light bulbs go off, then you know this is different. That's basically what happened.When I finally told my wife that this happened, she sat there for the longest time. I was waiting for her to hit me or something. That never happened. She sat there for the longest time and finally she said, "That explains a lot."
Bruce Bastian: [00:17:00] I never asked her to be more specific. That's all she said. That explains a lot. I'm sure it did. I'm sure I did many things that had seemed different or strange.
Mason Funk: Excuse me. I want to go back just a little bit. Walk me through how you and this very closehow did you just suddenly end up married?
Mason Funk: [00:17:30] friend of yours, this woman that became your wife,
Bruce Bastian: A lot of it was peer pressure. A lot of it was just feeling like I had good friends that were leaving. My life was changing.
Bruce Bastian: [00:18:00] I don't know. I guess I decided that I needed to get married. I needed to get married now. It was a very short engagement. I really, in my gut, knew that I was probably not doing the right thing,
Bruce Bastian: [00:18:30] but I went ahead, did it.Then after I got married, like within a week I called my mother and said, "I think I've done something really wrong." All my mother would say, "Well, son, you've made your bed. Now you have to lie in it."
Bruce Bastian: [00:19:00] Which, I understand why she said it and I understand as a strict Mormon mother, I do understand that. If my child came to me and said that, my reaction would so totally different. First of all, I would want to say, "What do you mean? Let's sit down and talk about it.
Bruce Bastian: [00:19:30] I want to understand what's going on in your head and your heart." None of that was said. It was just said, this is what you do now.
Mason Funk: You don't think she had any idea what you were talking about, what you were referring to?
Bruce Bastian: No.
Mason Funk: I still want to go back, I'm sorry to cut apart, but this ...
Bruce Bastian: That's fine, I don't mind.
Mason Funk: When we go back to the space where you, what was your wife's name?
Bruce Bastian: Melanie.
Mason Funk: [00:20:00] Melanie, I knew that sort of. How did you two jointly decide that you were going to transition from being good friends to marrying, becoming sexual partners?
Bruce Bastian: I knew Melanie was in love with me. I knew she I would not have to talk her into being my wife.
Bruce Bastian: [00:20:30] I had to convince myself to get married. I didn't ever have to convince her, look, let's get married. Again, I think that might have been one of the things that clicked in her head when I did come out as being gay.
Bruce Bastian: [00:21:00] I think that she understood a lot of those things then. That's a big one. Yeah, she wanted to get married.
Mason Funk: I see. You just had to basically get on the train.
Bruce Bastian: Yes. I just basically had to convince myself it was time to get married, and Melanie was the one.
Mason Funk: Got you. Okay. At what stage along in this progression in your personal life did you
[00:21:30] begin to get involved in the software writing, what would become an industry, which ultimately led to WordPerfect and all that. How did that fit in with the other stories you've been telling me?
Bruce Bastian: When I got married, then, I was very much I was the director of the cougar marching band, the BYU cougar band at the time. Melanie was very much involved with the band too. That's actually how we became friends.
Bruce Bastian: [00:22:00] I stayed very much involved with the band and hoped that it would become a future. I was proud of what we did. I considered myself good and liked and successful until the music department decided to fire me. They fired me because I didn't have a PhD.
Bruce Bastian: [00:22:30] I was working on my Masters degree at the time. My Masters degree was basically half music and half computer science. In reality, it was much more involved in the computer science end of it because I was writing a program involving 3-D graphics and charting and writing and producing the marching band show that you see
Bruce Bastian: [00:23:00] on the field of a football stadium. When the music department fired me, they told me they were not going to hire me for the next year. I went over to my advisor in the computer science department. He said, "Why don't you just switch your major to computer science?" I ended up getting a Masters degree in computer science with a minor in music instead of the other way around.
Bruce Bastian: [00:23:30] When I graduated with that Masters degree, my faculty advisor, who was Alan Ashton -- Alan Ashton was the cofounder of WordPerfect -- Alan told me that he had a friend who was interested in starting a company that was going to produce a word processor. Alan had done a lot of research in what word processing was supposed to be. Nobody had really written one at the time
Bruce Bastian: [00:24:00] but he had a lot of these ideas and formulas in his head about what it was supposed to do. He had a man in California who was the investor who was going to make it happen. Alan was going to be the advisor and co-owner to make sure it all happened properly. I was going to be the grunt programmer. That's how we started.
Bruce Bastian: [00:24:30] Less than two months in, the guy from California called and said he couldn't really invest any money and he was pulling out of the whole thing. So there was a hiccup where I went off to work for another company and Allen and I agreed to work together for the city of Orem to write a word processor on their citywide computers.
Bruce Bastian: [00:25:00] That's how that started. I mean, I learned programming basically from Alan. I learned, I did, a lot from reading books, manuals. Nobody taught me how to I was put in a room with this computer. We want a word processor on this computer. Alan had never written a program for that computer. Nobody there had written a So they gave me the manuals
Bruce Bastian: [00:25:30] and said, "Here you go." It was slow go. It took a long time to make it happen. I learned a lot. That's why Alan was basically the supervisor and I was the programmer.
Mason Funk: Now, for the Martian from, who knows where they'll someday be watching this interview, explain what in that era, it's so hard for us to get back.
Mason Funk: [00:26:00] What was the concept of a word processing program? What was this intended to do? Start by saying that. A word processing program.
Bruce Bastian: A word processor The goal of the city, when the city hired us to do it, the goal of the city was to basically replace the typewriter that the secretaries used. They were IBM Selectric,
Bruce Bastian: [00:26:30] I'm dating myself but they were IBM Selectric so they could do a lot of things by memory. You would do something once on it and they could do it again. They wanted to replace those typewriters with something that the secretaries could write on a computer screen that would be all in digital format but they could share, one secretary wrote it. Another one could edit it. Another one could. You know
Bruce Bastian: [00:27:00] The boss could read it.It was basically just a text editing, the thing that where a computer came in was because then you could actually edit. You could Even on a phone today, if you're sending a text message and you say, "Oh, I want to change that word or I want to insert a word right there." You just put your finger there.
Bruce Bastian: [00:27:30] That wasn't possible until we actually did it with WordPerfect. You would move the cursor to a certain point and you could insert. You could insert a word. You could insert a page. That was a real benefit.You could be much more You could see what you were going to get before you wasted 10 or 20 pages printing it. You didn't have to print it until you know, okay, this is done. This one's ready.
Bruce Bastian: [00:28:00] Print it. There were a lot of things the city wanted to be able to do. We on the other hand wanted to take it much further than that. We wanted to be able to have macros so you could merge people's names specifically into documents or data or eventually pictures, charts. You could do headers,
Bruce Bastian: [00:28:30] footers. We made it into a real document. Instead of just a text editor, we made it into a document editor. A document meeting all kinds of things you see in documents today.
Mason Funk: Now what year was this? Let me just get grounded in, what years were these?
Bruce Bastian: [00:29:00] Probably early, early '80s, maybe '81. I know we started by '81 because my third son was born in 81. I know I was programming then, so maybe even 1980.
Mason Funk: [00:29:30] Just give us a sense of how out of this initial project came WordPerfect. Give us a little bit of a sense of how WordPerfect became an incredibly successful product worldwide, and up to the point when your company was merged or sold to ...
Bruce Bastian: Novell?
Mason Funk: Yeah. Just give us a little bit of a thumbnail overview of that.
Bruce Bastian: When we wrote WordPerfect, we were writing it for Data General computers. I don't know if Data General computers
Bruce Bastian: [00:30:00] even still exist. Data General were very successful in, they called them, minicomputers. By today's standards they were huge. They were the size of a refrigerator. The brains were in this computer, and then dumb terminals, dumb terminals because all they basically were were, you input something with a keyboard and you would see it back on a screen.
Bruce Bastian: [00:30:30] All of the intelligence, anything that was happening was done by the computer. The computer was maybe handling 20, 30, 50 different terminals. That's what we wrote WordPerfect for. It wasn't even called WordPerfect, it was just called Word Processor. We had a company named SSI. It was called SSI Word Processor.We wrote that and we became fairly successful around the world.
Bruce Bastian: [00:31:00] We started selling on Data General computers even in Scandinavia. We translated it into Finnish, Danish, Swedish, Dutch. Then the IBM personal computer was invented. There was a couple of companies that were using our software on Data General. They wanted to
Bruce Bastian: [00:31:30] They saw the future of switching from these dumb terminals to switching to intelligent, self-run personal computers and then sharing data. When the personal computer was released by IBM, we bought one. We hired a brilliant programmer who was from BYU w
Bruce Bastian: [00:32:00] ho converted the Data General code to IBM personal computer.We got it running on the personal computer, and that's when we needed a fancy name. That's when we invented WordPerfect, the name. We started marketing then. It was really hard. We had a great product, we knew he had a great product,
Bruce Bastian: [00:32:30] but it was very hard to get people to sell it because there were other text editing programs. We had to actually do a lot of marketing to be able to go out and show people how WordPerfect was different from other things.Once it caught on, we had people from one company talk to another company, and a lot of it became word-of-mouth. I think one of the big
Bruce Bastian: [00:33:00] secrets to our success was the 800 toll-free support line. We could actually go into a We would go into a dealer and say, "Just sell it. Here's the 800 number. If anybody has a question, just tell them to call us. You don't have to do anything, just sell it." That was huge. We hired people We had people to talk to these people, walk them through how to,
Bruce Bastian: [00:33:30] even DOS, that was the era of PC DOS. Nobody could understand what to do with DOS. We would actually be giving Microsoft support because Microsoft didn't have toll-free support.We became loved as the support company. Dealers started selling it. Then we started to expand in other places, into Germany and France and other places in Europe. We became
Bruce Bastian: [00:34:00] People would buy PCs then, especially people in companies, because they could run Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect on their PCs. The productivity of these people went way up, so it became very popular. There were times when we just tried to hang on.
Bruce Bastian: [00:34:30] It was going so fast. It was just crazy.Microsoft, of course, wanted us to be on their new operating system on Windows. Eventually we converted it to run on Windows. That's when Microsoft also came out with Word and Excel and they bundled all of it for free. Then if you bought a PC,
[00:35:00] if you bought any brand, not just IBM but any brand of PC, you got Windows. As part of buying Windows, you got their Word and Excel. It became very difficult for us to compete.Oh, sorry. That's automatic, I'm sorry. I should have caught it.
(Problem with drapes. Took 1 minute to fix.)
Bruce Bastian: [00:36:20] When Microsoft introduced Windows, the first version of Windows didn't really take off.
Bruce Bastian: [00:36:30] If you remember, it was nice and everything. People still couldn't do a lot with it. They wanted us to put WordPerfect on Windows because they thought if WordPerfect is on Windows, it will sell more. That first iteration of Windows was really not friendly to the
Bruce Bastian: [00:37:00] people who wanted to put other software on top of it. Then they introduced the second version of Windows, but they also introduced Word. They bundled Word. It's very difficult to compete with a product that's free.We started to see our market share. I mean, the first versions of WordPerfect that came out on Windows were huge successes.
Bruce Bastian: [00:37:30] They were all over the world. We couldn't even manufacture them fast enough to keep up with demand. The first version of Word, even I think Microsoft will admit the first version of Word on Windows was not really very good. I don't think the current version is very good but that's my, I'm biased, I know.
Bruce Bastian: [00:38:00] That's when we started talking to Novell because Novell had networking software. They still do. WordPerfect was one of the first programs that you could put on one computer, I could be on one computer, you could be on another computer, and even though the computers were doing all the work, the files that we created would be on a network server. It's very much like the cloud now.
Bruce Bastian: [00:38:30] Except the cloud is on huge, huge servers, huge computers. I mean, Amazon has huge computers. Google has huge computers. Apple has huge computers. You share, I mean, things are put there so you can retrieve them from other places.Novell is basically the first one to have that idea.
Bruce Bastian: [00:39:00] The cloud was basically, the cloud for a company was basically a larger, a computer with a large database, data source in their own offices. I could write something and you could have access to it, vice versa. In the olden days when you had a mini computer, the computer was doing all the work plus storing all the data.
Bruce Bastian: [00:39:30] Now in the networking and cloud era, the local computer, your own computer is doing all the work. You're just storing it where other people have access to it. Novell was really the first company to do that. WordPerfect was one of the first products ever written that could utilize that.Novell was located in Provo and we were located in Orem, which are just
Bruce Bastian: [00:40:00] right next to each other. We thought it was a good fit. In 1994 we merged with Novell. We were excited about how we were going to be able to offer this networking solution to companies, to individuals. That's when the Internet was also taking off. It seemed like such a great idea. Unfortunately after the merger,
Bruce Bastian: [00:40:30] the execs, especially the marketing executives at Novell didn't know what to do with WordPerfect. They didn't understand what it was. They didn't understand how to market it. That whole brilliant idea went nowhere. Novell ended up giving WordPerfect to Corel. The whole WordPerfect suite, they gave to Corel.
Bruce Bastian: [00:41:00] Corel still markets it. Corel still updates it, keeps it running on Windows. They really haven't added any features since 1994.
Mason Funk: At that point were you already out essentially when Novell acquired WordPerfect?
Bruce Bastian: No.
Mason Funk: You were still involved?
Bruce Bastian: I was the chairman of the board. When the merger happened, I was the chairman of WordPerfect. Alan was the president of WordPerfect.
Bruce Bastian: [00:41:30] We had a Dutch partner who was actually the first CEO of WordPerfect. We were getting ready to go public. Then we made a deal with Novell instead. I was very much involved. Then I stayed on the board of the combined company for at least a year until it
Bruce Bastian: [00:42:00] became clear that they really didn't care what I thought. The company was being run by accountants and lawyers, none of whom really understood what computer software was.
Mason Funk: Sounds like movie studios.
Bruce Bastian: Yeah. It's very interesting though. The one thing I don't consider Bill Gates a technology guru.
Bruce Bastian: [00:42:30] He understands technology, but he's not a programmer. He's not a program developer. He's a marketing genius. He has foresight into where things are going or need to go. I think the CEOs over at Apple and Google,
Bruce Bastian: [00:43:00] I think they understand the technology world. That's why they're successful and they understand what makes technology click. I don't think most lawyers or accountants know that at all. I think that was really the downfall of Novell.
Mason Funk: During this time span from say the early 80s up through 1994
Mason Funk: [00:43:30] back over to your personal life, what was happening? Actually before we get there, you said it was crazy. It was a crazy time. You could just barely stay ahead of demand. Describe to me just professionally speaking, still not going over to the person side, but what was your life like? Were you working [inaudible 00:43:54] hours? Were you traveling like crazy? Just the rhythm, I think it's fun for people to go on the ride of a company that is just taking off.
Bruce Bastian: [00:44:00] You know, when we were developing WordPerfect, it was a lot of work with very little income. I would work, I mean, the minimum was 12 hours a day and many times more. I wouldn't work on Sunday because I was still trying to be a faithful Mormon.
Bruce Bastian: [00:44:30] I would work all day and I would go home and have dinner with my kids, they were little, have dinner and help get them bathed and put to bed. Then I'd go back to work until midnight. Sometimes later. Sometimes I would get up at five and go back to work.
Mason Funk: People these days, sorry to interrupt. People these days might think, oh, go back to work. You jump on your laptop and you'd answer emails. No, you go back to the office.
Bruce Bastian: [00:45:00] Yeah. At the time I didn't live very far from the office but work was at the office. You couldn't do what I needed to do on a laptop. Laptops at that point did not have the functionality, the capability of doing any of that then. No, you programmed on a computer, on a real computer. Yeah, I went back to work.
Bruce Bastian: [00:45:30] When we actually got a product, so in the early 80s, maybe '82, '83, no. It was '82. We actually had a product to sell. Then I started traveling a lot. Alan Ashton was still a full-time professor at BYU. He couldn't just take off and go.
Bruce Bastian: [00:46:00] We did start hiring, got enough money to hire a few other people. They helped do a lot of that.Then when we started getting demand from Europe, I was the only one that said yes. I'll go to Europe. They didn't want to be gone that long. I wasn't really
Bruce Bastian: [00:46:30] happy happy at home. I wasn't unhappy at home. Unlike my other colleagues, I wasn't just dying to be home every minute. These breaks especially to Europe were I learned a lot. I saw culture and things in society I never would see in Utah.
Bruce Bastian: [00:47:00] My life became less and less programming and more and more marketing or technology expos and stuff like that.
Mason Funk: Then now on the, you mentioned you weren't dying to be home all the time. What was happening inside during these years?
Bruce Bastian: [00:47:30] You go to big cities, and in some of these big cities, being gay was suddenly, maybe not suddenly, but for me it was suddenly. I could actually go to cities where there were gay bars or, you know, I could see gay people walking down the street. I could tell they were gay. I was shocked at first.
Bruce Bastian: [00:48:00] Then the more I saw, the more I thought, they don't look like such bad people. I started to question a lot. I started to question myself and question whether I was as bad a person as the church was telling me I was.
Bruce Bastian: [00:48:30] On one of these trips, this trip, I went on a trip to Germany for probably the biggest technology show in the world at the time. It happened every year. Then on my way back I decided to take the train from Germany to Amsterdam and see Amsterdam. That's where I met my first boyfriend. Those international trips had a huge impact on my life.
Bruce Bastian: [00:49:00] Those international trips had a huge impact on my life.
Mason Funk: Was that boyfriend the first kiss?
Bruce Bastian: Yeah. That was the first kiss.
Mason Funk: Can you tell us more about that story?
Bruce Bastian: That happened in Amsterdam. We were just If anyone is familiar with Amsterdam, there's the Dam and the Dam Square, and there's a shopping Street that is pedestrian only.
Bruce Bastian: [00:49:30] That's where we saw each other and just started talking. He said, "Have you been to Amsterdam before?" I said, "No." He said, "Have you been on a canal right yet?" I said "No." He said, "Okay, we're going on a canal ride." We went. I got tickets and went on a canal ride. We talked and talked and talked. He just never left.
Mason Funk: [00:50:00] I love, because I'm such a detailed person, and I remember in my say 20s or whatever, some of the very first times that I met somebody on the street. Do you remember the cat and mouse or the glancing and then approaching, do you remember how it all unfolded?
Bruce Bastian: I saw him in Dam Square.
Mason Funk: What was his name by the way?
Bruce Bastian: [00:50:30] Walter. He started walking in the street. In Amsterdam there are policemen on horses. All of a sudden I saw him and, I admit, I was following him just to see where he was going. The policeman on the horse reared. Everybody looked, and that's when he first saw me
Bruce Bastian: [00:51:00] and I smiled back. It was right in front of McDonald's. That McDonald's is still there. After all these years, still there. That's where we started talking.
Mason Funk: About how old were you at this point?
Bruce Bastian: I was I think 34, 35. He was 18.
Bruce Bastian: [00:51:30] Being gay to this 18-year-old kid in Holland, you know, who cares? No big deal. He really couldn't understand a lot of the issues I had. I had a lot of issues. I mean, I really needed a shrink. I really didn't understand anything about myself.
Bruce Bastian: [00:52:00] I had a lot of learning to do. He was much more ready to be in a gay relationship than I was. Even though I was older.
Mason Funk: It must have been like trying to explain, you literally were from two foreign countries. Also you're culturally, generationally, it was like talking to someone across the Grand Canyon almost.
Bruce Bastian: [00:52:30] Yeah. Yeah, we had mutual loves for music and art. The things, you know, when you meet someone that you have mutual interests, those were there. The age difference was somewhat significant but not nearly as significant as the cultural difference.
Bruce Bastian: [00:53:00] The cultural differences between Walter and myself were huge. I remember going to the first gay bar in Amsterdam with him. It was just a bar like any other. No blacked out windows. No,
Bruce Bastian: [00:53:30] you know, you go to New York or even London at the time. You go to gay bars. They were all blacked out so nobody could see who actually was inside. Very secretive. Not so in Amsterdam. It was like, we're gay, so what?
Mason Funk: Was this then when you came home, I guess let me pause. What was it like? How long did you spend together,
Mason Funk: [00:54:00] and then at some point, hold that thought. You need to wait?
Kate Kunath: No.
Mason Funk: At a certain point you had to come home.
Bruce Bastian: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Like I had an experience where I fell in love with a guy in Lisbon, Portugal. I remember coming home a week later. It was gut wrenching. [inaudible 00:54:28] experience, but what was it like when you had to come home?
Bruce Bastian: [00:54:30] I postponed coming home I think for two days, three days maybe. Yeah. Coming back was really hard. I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to, I told him I would come back as soon as I could. I didn't know how long that would be. Then when I got back Utah, I was a mess.
Bruce Bastian: [00:55:00] I mean, I was like, it's finally admitting to myself, okay. I don't have a hunch. This is not a hunch that I'm gay. I know I'm gay. I know the difference between kissing someone that, you're kissing someone, and kissing someone because there is this emotional desire to kiss the person.
Bruce Bastian: [00:55:30] It was just so transformational and so difficult. I walk in the door and see my little boys and I just thought, oh, jeez. What am I going to do? I mean, I think less than a week later is when I actually told my wife.
Bruce Bastian: [00:56:00] We tried to make it work. I tried to just, I tried to be gay and be a Mormon at the same time. That's impossible. Especially then it was impossible. After a few years,
Bruce Bastian: [00:56:30] yeah. After I think five years I decided I couldn't do it anymore. I was not a happy person. I was very tense. I was very irritable. I had a very short temper. I was still pretending to be a father but I really wasn't a good father. That's when I moved out.
Mason Funk: [00:57:00] I would assume with regard to your parents, your siblings, you were complete keeping all this completely under wraps.
Bruce Bastian: I started to tell some people what had happened.
Bruce Bastian: [00:57:30] I was a mess at work as much I was a mess, because all I could think about was Walter and what am I going to do about him? He wants me to come back to Amsterdam. What am I going to do? I started telling a few people. I told my eldest sister, and her response was,
Bruce Bastian: [00:58:00] "I kind of figured that." Because she lived in Chicago. I told my cousin who I was very close to. It wasn't a shock to her either.After a lot of tooth pulling, my brother-in-law who also was an executive at WordPerfect, he got it out of me.
Bruce Bastian: [00:58:30] He tried to be very understanding, but he also decided it was up to him to tell the other family members, which if anybody finds out another person is LGBT or whatever, it's not your job to tell anyone else. It's their job. It's their life. He really
Bruce Bastian: [00:59:00] He told my parents. To say it was not helpful is an understatement. It just made everything a lot worse.I did start telling people. That's when it was decided that I would have more of a presence in Europe than in the United States. I basically
Bruce Bastian: [00:59:30] started going to Europe for three weeks and then come back for three or four weeks. Then I'd go back to Europe as of the offices and stuff and come back. It was a really unfulfilling time of life.
Mason Funk: What happened eventually in your relationship with Walter?
Bruce Bastian: [01:00:00] After trying to do all this He was very understanding. He was an amazing young man. After doing this for five years, I knew I needed to be who I was. I needed to be authentic about my life, who Bruce Bastian really was. I knew I needed to for the sake of everyone,
Bruce Bastian: [01:00:30] I needed to separate from Melanie. I really thought it was in her best interests as well as my best interests. I thought she could marry someone, find someone who actually loved her like she deserved to be loved. That never happened.I never wanted it to be said that I left Melanie for another man. So I broke up with Walter. I broke up with him.
Bruce Bastian: [01:01:00] I moved out from the house with Melanie. I went to my Mormon Bishop and said I was leaving the church. I did all that within six months. Those decisions were really difficult, life-changing, but they were the best decisions of my life. It's hard for my children
Bruce Bastian: [01:01:30] to understand how I could say leaving their mother was one of my best decisions, but it allowed me to be who I was.I really consider the work; the things I have done in my life since WordPerfect to be more worthwhile, more gratifying, and worth more to human existence then inventing WordPerfect,
Bruce Bastian: [01:02:00] even though it changed the way people communicated. It changed the way people wrote. When I've been working on LGBTQ rights since 1994, I think has really been more important to me and certainly to LGBTQ people of the United States and the world.The best decision I ever made, the very best decision I ever made
Bruce Bastian: [01:02:30] was to leave the Mormon church. To get out from under their stranglehold. That was probably the hardest It wasn't the hardest. Leaving Melanie was the hardest. Leaving the church took a lot of years of examining them, examining myself, examining why I believe what I believed. How much of it was really because I believed it, or how much of it has been shoved down my throat?
Bruce Bastian: [01:03:00] Leaving the church or leaving those cufflinks, I mean those handcuffs, the handcuffs that kept you strapped into their beliefs; that was so freeing. It was like freedom to get away from that and be able to actually If people said, "What do you believe?" Actually tell them what you really believed,
Bruce Bastian: [01:03:30] not tell them a rehearsed story. That was a six month period. I can't even remember exactly when it was. It was an amazing life-changing short time in my life.
Mason Funk: Prior to that, when you were doing the five year period roughly when you were trying to work it out with Melanie, had you gone to elder type
Mason Funk: [01:04:00] figures in the church or to a bishop or to whoever you would go to that was kind of in a position of authority over you and said, "This is what I'm struggling with." And ask their advice? Had you done any of those things?
Bruce Bastian: I actually did that before I got married. I went to my bishop at the time and said, you know
Bruce Bastian: [01:04:30] I was struggling with feelings, sexual preference for men. The Bishop just, you know. The bishop was like Mormon Bishops have no training in any of this. It could be a grocery It could be a car salesman, a grocery store manager, an insurance salesman. It could be any,
Bruce Bastian: [01:05:00] and there's suddenly a bishop that is supposed to give religious and spiritual guidance to their flock.They don't know how to do that! You tell a Bishop that you think that you're gay and you're struggling with gay issues, oh, I'm sure it's just a phase. Before you get married as a Mormon you go to a Over a Bishop is the Stake President.
Bruce Bastian: [01:05:30] I told the Stake President. I said, "I'm not really in love with Melanie. I have, I struggle with gay issues." I didn't think they were called gay issues. Homosexual tendencies. He honestly said (I will never forget it.) He said word for word, "Well brother Bastian, you need to get married and I promise you you'll learn to love her.",
Bruce Bastian: [01:06:00] which is what they were supposed to tell you.In fact, until not too many years ago, that's still what they told young men. So I got married and I did love her, but I never fell in love. You can't learn to fall in love to someone. You just can't. You either do or you don't. Yeah. After that five-year period or during that five-year period,
Bruce Bastian: [01:06:30] I had discussions with church leaders. Not leaders leaders but Bishops, people in Stake Presidency that I had these issues. I was trying to deal with them, trying to be a good man. They never really had any good advice.
Bruce Bastian: [01:07:00] Then it was either come to terms and leave the church or risk staying and being excommunicated and being publicly humiliated and embarrassed in front of my children. It was better to just quietly go to the Bishop and say, "I want to leave the church. I want to leave it quietly. I don't want any publicity. If you excommunicate me I will sue you." That's what I did.
Bruce Bastian: [01:07:30] I had an understanding Bishop. He was a wonderful man. I've seen him since. A very loving, kind man who understood and helped me do that quietly and silently.
Mason Funk: That seems like a good point to just pause for a second. It feels like halftime. What a story. That's old news to you probably, but thank you for getting us through that.
Bruce Bastian: [01:08:00] Every time I tell my story, it gets a little different.
Mason Funk: Hold one second please. There's a phone.
Bruce Bastian: I don't know why it's even ringing.
Mason Funk: That's okay. It'll stop.
Bruce Bastian: It'll stop. Somebody has a wrong number.
Mason Funk: There it goes. Will you start again if you don't mind, every time you tell your story ...
Bruce Bastian: [01:08:30] Every time I tell my story, and I've told it a few times now. It gets slightly different. I understand myself more. I think we all learn and progress and change. If we don't, we're not doing something right. I think I understand myself My wife passed away in 2016
Bruce Bastian: [01:09:00] Melanie passed away. I've had interesting conversations with my children who are all adults now. I mean, I understand a lot more about myself now than other times when I have told my story. I mean, I feel bad.
Bruce Bastian: [01:09:30] Parts of me, I feel bad for Walter because he hung in there. After a year after we broke up, probably less than a year, but maybe a year I went back to him and I said, "Okay, I've dealt with a lot of my issues, a lot of my crap. I'm out from under the obstacle of the church. I don't live with Melanie anymore. Can we get back together?"
Bruce Bastian: [01:10:00] He said, "I'm with someone else now." He had moved on. And he should have. He's the only one of my exes that I don't still talk to. Which in a way it hurts, and it's his choice, not mine. Very interesting.
Mason Funk: [01:10:30] Let's take just a little wee break. We can maybe swap cards. Then we'll stretch or whatever. Okay. I think one of the questions that I asked about that phase was, I know that I'm still coming out of my Christian, devout Christian phase, high school, college.
Mason Funk: [01:11:00] I'm still dealing with all the internalized stuff. Shame and blah, blah, blah. Another person I talked to recently who came out of that similar culture, you could tell that still, he referred to himself as the blot. The blot as in the thing that messes up everything. It was kind of striking as an image.
Mason Funk: [01:11:30] You're the thing that ruins the perfect picture. I wondered what your process was in terms of processing all that internalized homophobia essentially that you had lived with all those years.
Bruce Bastian: When you are told over and over, it's not like they're telling you.
Bruce Bastian: [01:12:00] The subject is basically that if you're a homosexual, you are not as good as other people who are not homosexual. In the Mormon culture, if you break away from the Mormon church, not only are you damning yourself, you're doing spiritual damage to your family.
Bruce Bastian: [01:12:30] You are causing them to not receive the blessings of God that they are entitled to if you stay with the fold. The amount of pressure, the amount of this evil cloud hanging over your head is really amazing. You talk about these young people who commit suicide.
Bruce Bastian: [01:13:00] I can understand. I had suicidal thoughts.All this damage you're doing just for this So you can love somebody, you must be bad. You must have things in you that are really flawed if you think that you, your happiness is worth causing so much misery on other people
Bruce Bastian: [01:13:30] and doing damage even to society. Such bullshit! I'm sorry that it's such pressure, such unwarranted oppression. They don't even really go back to the real. I mean I used to study the Scriptures a lot. Jesus would probably be pro-LGBT.
Bruce Bastian: [01:14:00] I know he would be very liberal. He believed in socialism. He was killed by leaders of the church. That's who killed him. Because he was preaching to people to not be so corrupt as the church.As I mentioned, I went through a lot of soul-searching, a lot of reading, a lot of
Bruce Bastian: [01:14:30] delving into what was said by the church in public and what was said by the church like through other backdoor channels. I have no regard for the Mormon church at all. I think they're one of the most evil institutions on the face of the earth. They are controlling. They are manipulative. They are not for the happiness of the individual.
Bruce Bastian: [01:15:00] They are for the health, especially the financial health of the group. It took me a while to get to that point. I went through years and years of therapy. Years! I went through at least three or four therapists until I drained them of everything they knew how to tell me, and then I would go to the next one.
Bruce Bastian: [01:15:30] Yeah. There's a Scripture that says There are two scriptures. One is in the Bible that says Know the truth and the truth will set you free. The truth has set me free. The truth about what the Mormon church is; the truth about what organized religion is in general; and the guilt it inflicts on people who are just trying to be happy and live their lives. That truth has set me free.
Bruce Bastian: [01:16:00] The other Scripture is a Mormon Scripture. It says Man is that he might have joy. A lot of Mormons believe that it's worth it to go through hell during life so that you could be happy in the hereafter. Again, what crap.
Bruce Bastian: [01:16:30] I mean, you're here. If you could be happy and have a productive, happy life, you are of much more worth as a human being than if you're just living in some sad, stuck away life doing things that you're told like a robot. You're not really that much better than a cow being herded around in a pasture.I think if you really want to be worthwhile as a human being you need to be authentic. You need to be real.
Bruce Bastian: [01:17:00] You need to be pursuing your happiness. Nobody else can make you happy except you. You can't really make anyone else happy unless you're happy. You know, I didn't just get there. That took a long That was a long path to get to that point.
Mason Funk: Great, okay. Thank you.
Bruce Bastian: That was my rant. Sorry.
Mason Funk: [01:17:30] No, it was a good one. Let's switch over into, I guess we're now '94 towards the present, you got involved with HRC. How did that happen?
Bruce Bastian: After WordPerfect, after the merger with Novell, so by 1995 I was trying to figure out,
Bruce Bastian: [01:18:00] what do I do next? What does Bruce Bastian really believe? What should Bruce Bastian really concentrate on? I thought about doing other business ventures. I had kind of a sore taste, like a bad taste in my mouth for businesses. They're so intent on
Bruce Bastian: [01:18:30] making money that money kind of ruled what they did; their decision-making. It even became more important than having a good product was to make money.I wasn't really interested in going back into the business world. Gradually I started paying attention to local charities, local ventures.
Bruce Bastian: [01:19:00] I got involved with Ballet West in Salt Lake City. The Utah Symphony. A lot of arts. That's where I felt safe in getting involved in arts organizations. The first LGBT organization I got involved with was the Utah AIDS Foundation.
Bruce Bastian: [01:19:30] That was probably in the early '90s. That was before 1994. I anonymously gave a donation to the Utah AIDS foundation to help keep them afloat.As everyone knows, the early '90s were difficult years for people with AIDS,
Bruce Bastian: [01:20:00] HIV positive, and organizations who are trying to help these, especially young men. I've been a supporter and a funder of the Utah AIDS Foundation ever since. I think I'm one of their oldest, longest giving. After that it became told, I was told
Bruce Bastian: [01:20:30] by friends and associates that to give to an organization is fine. When you do it anonymously, you're really limiting the amount of help you're doing, because you should be proud of what you're doing. You should be proud of the help you're giving. Unless you're willing to stand up and put your name behind it, people aren't even going to know where this support is coming from.
Bruce Bastian: [01:21:00] That's when I started a foundation. Our first work in the early to mid '90s was AIDS foundations. San Francisco, New York, here, and I for the first time started to put my name on it. I got I've been involved with HRC now
Bruce Bastian: [01:21:30] for almost 20 years. I got involved with them because Elizabeth Birch hounded me until I went to dinner with her one night and she invited me to the headquarters. This is before they moved into their beautiful building now.I started to learn what HRC did and
Bruce Bastian: [01:22:00] got to meet some of the people there. I was very impressed with the organization and the talent and dedication of the people, of the staff, and some of the other people, volunteers, people like myself who just did it and donate money and time and effort. The reason I got involved with the human rights campaign was the political landscape in Utah has never been easy.
Bruce Bastian: [01:22:30] Then to go to the state legislature and actually talk about doing something positive for gay rights in Utah, they would just laugh at you.Yes, the church is manipulative and controlling and there's no better place to point that out than in the Utah state legislature. They control it, a lot of its behind the scenes and everything.
Bruce Bastian: [01:23:00] If the church doesn't want a bill to move, it doesn't move. The human rights campaign was national. I saw that maybe from a national standpoint, if things were done on a national level, that it could maybe filter down and make progress possible in states like Utah, Idaho, and at the time Nevada,
Bruce Bastian: [01:23:30] Wyoming. I saw the human rights campaign as a place that I could make perhaps more impact than in a local organization.
Mason Funk: Totally makes sense. This was meant to mid to ...
Bruce Bastian: Late '90s.
Mason Funk: Late '90s, yeah.
Mason Funk: [01:24:00] As you know, this is just to touch on the HRC for a little bit. The interviews we're going to be connecting are with really this immense spectrum of people within the LGBTQ community. Of course people from way further left so to speak than the HRC would be considered. They hurl criticisms at the HRC for not being inclusive enough and so on and so forth. I'm sure you've heard these along the way. What's your sense of the HRC as an organization
Mason Funk: [01:24:30] in terms of an organization that has evolved, has changed and so on?
Bruce Bastian: I think HRC is much more inclusive now than it was when I first got involved. I know it's much more inclusive now than when I first got involved. When I first got involved, HRC politically, we wanted to make change in Congress. We wanted to have people in the Senate and the house that would
Bruce Bastian: [01:25:00] move bills to make things happen. You can talk to the task force. You can talk to these other people that don't like HRC. None of them have made national progress in politics as much as HRC. They don't come close. I understand their criticism. I don't buy it, but I understand it.
Bruce Bastian: [01:25:30] I know that we would not be where we are in Utah politically with some of the things happening if it weren't for some of the leadership and strengths that have come down from HRC. I know at the time HRC has used to pride itself that it had Democrats and Republicans that it supported,
Bruce Bastian: [01:26:00] and that were favorable to HRC. I know that's a part of it, you're not liberal enough. How can you support a Republican if you're gay? I agree. I could never personally support a Republican because the rhetoric that comes out of the Republican Party. But the goal of HRC, the political goal of HRC is to get bills passed.
Bruce Bastian: [01:26:30] I don't know of, maybe there's one or two Republicans that HRC would publicly support now.
Kate Kunath: I'll get it.
Mason Funk: It's determined, it's going to ...
Bruce Bastian: It's the timer. I should have disabled it.
Mason Funk: That's okay.
Bruce Bastian: [01:27:00] You're good.
Mason Funk: You're saying there are ...
Bruce Bastian: HRC used to have to support Republicans and Democrats because their goal is to get bills passed. They had to build a group of senators or a group of congressmen, congresspeople to get something through.
Bruce Bastian: [01:27:30] With everything so polarized now, yes, HRC tries to be supportive of political candidates that support us. HRC's goal politically is to support candidates that support the LGBTQ community. You're hard- pressed to find a Republican now that fits that. They just don't.
Bruce Bastian: [01:28:00] I think HRC is a lot more progressive, a lot more progressive now than it was when I joined. We take great pride in working with other progressive organizations. We don't If the ACLU needs
Bruce Bastian: [01:28:30] our support, we're there. If the NAACP needs support, we're there. We put a lot of effort into being there and supportive and working hard for the trans community. I think we do as much work for the trans community as we do the rest of the community combined because that's where
Bruce Bastian: [01:29:00] the effort is needed right now. That's where the battles are being fought is on the front lines for the trans community.Is HRC perfect? No. I think a lot of the anger that's still out there in the community is jealousy because HRC gets a lot of money. We have a huge budget, we raise a lot of money, we have a lot of donors that other organizations
Bruce Bastian: [01:29:30] would love to have. You know, nothing can make enemies faster than money.
Mason Funk: Let's jump forward to 2008 when as everyone knows we elected President Obama and the California voters passed prop 8, and it became known as the Mormon proposition. What was your involvement, what was your awareness of prop eight as it was even
Mason Funk: [01:30:00] before the election, as it was being debated? How aware, when did you become aware that the Mormon church was pouring in money to defeat it, or to actually pass it on so on? What was your personal perspective on that whole incident?
Bruce Bastian: Even living in Utah I was very aware of prop 8.
Mason Funk: Do me a favor, start out just by saying what prop 8 was.
Bruce Bastian: Okay. Proposition eight in California was basically ...
Mason Funk: [01:30:30] Sorry, I was talking. Start over please.
Bruce Bastian: Proposition 8, a California proposition to make marriage between a man and a woman. Like any anti-gay, anti-LGBT proposition, they slurred a lot of the issues.
Bruce Bastian: [01:31:00] They pumped hate into it. They made people afraid. If we don't pass prop 8, the LGBT community, the gays are going to come and get your children. All these lies. I was very much aware of what it was, what was happening. Then I heard the Mormon church was going to put a lot of
Bruce Bastian: [01:31:30] effort and money into getting prop 8 passed.When I heard that, I called the leadership of Human Rights Campaign and said, "You guys need to be scared now. You guys need to be aware that if the Mormon church is in it, there's a good chance it'll pass." Oh, Bruce, youre crazy. I said, " No, you guys do not understand how they influence all these people. They will have people on the ground for free.
Bruce Bastian: [01:32:00] For FREE. They'll tell their membership that they have to go out and preach for this horrible proposition and they will get it passed." I said, "I will be the first member of the gay community to put up a million dollars to defeat prop 8." They said, "That's great."I remember going to San Francisco to the HRC dinner there and talking to the San Francisco
Bruce Bastian: [01:32:30] Chronicle before the HRC dinner. They said, "Why would you do this? The gay rights in California is very popular. They're not going to pass this." I said, "You watch. You just wait." I had a really strong hunch, and my hunch was right.
Mason Funk: What did you, oh my gosh. I can't imagine when you felt when you saw the returns.
Bruce Bastian: [01:33:00] I was in Washington.
Mason Funk: Do me a favor, start out by saying what ...
Bruce Bastian: At the election night in 2008, I was at a party because I was at a party to celebrate, we thought Obama's going to win the president. Sure enough, that was announced pretty quickly. His win, and so it turned into be a real party, a real celebratory party. It happened to be an LGBT party.
Bruce Bastian: [01:33:30] Then we waited. We were there, and then later in the evening, they announced that prop 8 had passed. Suddenly the whole mood of the party went like, all the air out of the room. It was such a roller coaster, such a real high see Obama win. Then such a tremendous kick in the stomach to see prop 8 pass.
Bruce Bastian: [01:34:00] It kind of motivated the community to say, "We can't let them win. We can't let them take our rights away from us. The way they did it was through lies and fear mongering. We can't let them beat us. We need to be smarter at how we do these things.
Mason Funk: You think ultimately somebody else said that. I think maybe Gary or [inaudible 01:34:35] said that
Mason Funk: [01:34:30] they feel like federal marriage equality would not have happened nearly as soon if prop 8 hadn't actually passed.
Bruce Bastian: Yes, I agree. I agree that federal marriage rights would not have happened nearly as quickly without prop 8. The lawsuit against prop 8 kind of led the way. There was a huge backlash all over the world against the Mormon church
Bruce Bastian: [01:35:00] because of what they did to get it passed, which was such a shock to them. They saw their membership go down. They saw their tithing input, their money coming in, went way down. Prop 8 really hurt the Mormon church financially and public relations-wise. It made them kind of back off and say, "Maybe we shouldn't be so anti-gay."
Bruce Bastian: [01:35:30] I agree that prop 8 was horrible for the moment, but yeah. It really revved people up, motivated them. It got the enthusiasm for gay rights way up.
Mason Funk: Okay, great. That's all really, really good stuff. Let me check my list of questions.
Mason Funk: [01:36:00] You mentioned that you wanted to talk about Michael Marriott.
Bruce Bastian: Michael Marriott was one of the first Michael Marriott was originally, he's from Idaho like I'm from Idaho. We met in Salt Lake city when I was first coming out, first dipping my toe into the world of being gay.
Bruce Bastian: [01:36:30] Michael befriended me. He was very popular. I was an unknown. He kind of showed me the ropes. He has been a good friend of me, he has been a very good friend did to me since we met. He runs my foundation. He has helped me expand what the foundation does and why.
Bruce Bastian: [01:37:00] He has been very instrumental in my personal life. He's been very instrumental in what I do in my life as an entrepreneur, as a funder, as a benefactor. He's one that introduced me to HRC, which has changed my life as much as anything I've ever gotten in involved in,
Bruce Bastian: [01:37:30] so yeah. If I have, if I take my hat off to anybody in my lifetime that has really helped me become who I am, Michael would have to be in that very small list.
Mason Funk: That's interesting because earlier I was going to ask you, so Michael was maybe number one or one of that small group of people.
Mason Funk: [01:38:00] I was going to ask you earlier if there were other people who as you went through these tremendous changes, if there were people who came into your life that were angels. People who emerged out of nowhere who helped you in one way or another to get through the other side.
Bruce Bastian: Michael Marriott was like an angel to just kind of always be there, you know.
Bruce Bastian: [01:38:30] Always willing to drop what he was doing and help me through a crisis. Hopefully I've done the same for him. We were Everybody saw us as best friends for years. We really did go on this journey, especially the first several years together.
Bruce Bastian: [01:39:00] He was one of them. I have two dear friends in Salt Lake City, Rick Ith and Brent Erkelens who have been together for over 40 years as a couple. They have been a remarkable, amazing example to me of what a real relationship can be and should be.
Bruce Bastian: [01:39:30] I've had just friends along the way that have been examples. It's not so much they have told me what to do, but like my father never sat me down and said, "Bruce, this is what you should be. This is what you should do." He just did it and I observed. There are people in my life that live that way and I observed them and how they live. I see the good in that.
Bruce Bastian: [01:40:00] As much of, I guess they're angels. I think we all have angels in our lives that are good examples and people that we want to build our lives based upon.
Mason Funk: How did you feel, it occurred to me. I saw my notes here that your former business partner Alan apparently must still be very involved in the Mormon church, because I think he donated a million dollars to the prop 8 campaign.
Bruce Bastian: [01:40:30] Yeah. I donated a million dollars to defeat prop 8. Alan donated a million dollars to pass prop 8. I've never pinned him down, but it was like the beginning of a big fission in our relationship. I don't consider Alan a friend.
Bruce Bastian: [01:41:00] I consider him a former business colleague. He's always very nice to me, but I don't trust his feelings, the motivation for his feelings. I don't know if he donated that million dollars because he really believed he should, or if he donated the million dollars because officials of the Mormon church came to him and said, "Bruce Bastian, your business colleague, donated a million dollars.
Bruce Bastian: [01:41:30] You should too to fight it." I wouldn't be surprised if that's what happened.
Mason Funk: I just imagine, what a strange sensation. I've never donated to million dollars. How did it feel to donate a million dollars and to know that basically somebody else stepped in and said, "I'll counter that."
Bruce Bastian: Basically cancel it. It really hurt. When Alan donated the million dollars,
Bruce Bastian: [01:42:00] it really hurt. I really My relationship with those guys changed. I've told them. "Why?" I said, "If you can openly fight me, that I'm not as good a human being as you are, how can I say I love you? How can I say you're my friend? You don't consider me equal.
Bruce Bastian: [01:42:30] Unless you consider me equal, we are not friends." It was basically; to me it was very simple. I don't know how you can be friends if you're not equal. It was a, yeah. It took a toll on our friendship.
Mason Funk: After Walter, and I know I met, I'm embarrassed to say I forgot.
Bruce Bastian: [01:43:00] Clint.
Mason Funk: Clint, who I assume is your current partner.
Bruce Bastian: We're actually engaged. Clint and I are actually engaged.
Mason Funk: Oh. Let's get to that. Do me a favor, tell me through after Walter up to Clint. Give me a thumbnail sketch.
Bruce Bastian: I haven't been in that many relationships, real relationships. After Walter, I was single for a while
Bruce Bastian: [01:43:30] doing what single gay men do. Then I met John. John is from Australia. John and I were together for I think about six years. I met John in 1989. He was with me through the whole WordPerfect, Novell thing.
Bruce Bastian: [01:44:00] John and I built this house. Our relationship ended. John and I are friends now but our breakup was not pretty. Then I dated a guy named Paul, which was probably some of the unhappiest years of my life,
Bruce Bastian: [01:44:30] although he brought dogs into my life. Even as bad as that relationship was, he brought dogs into my life. I'll bless him for the dogs.After I broke up with Paul, I was single for a few years. Then I met an Englishman. Paul was American. Then I met an Englishman, an English boy named Philip.
Bruce Bastian: [01:45:00] All I will say about that is when you know someone doesn't truly love you, get out. Don't keep trying to do things to make this other person love you because if he doesn't love you, he doesn't love you.
Bruce Bastian: [01:45:30] There's a song by Bonnie Ray, what did the lyrics, you can't make me. I can't make you love me if you don't, and you don't. Philip didn't. He loved controlling me.
Bruce Bastian: [01:46:00] He loved telling me that he was the only friend I had in the world. He made me, he really put me into a spiral down, which you have to have people around you that build you up, make you feel better about who you are.I was with Philip. I attempted to make us work for far too long.
Bruce Bastian: [01:46:30] Then I met Clint. I've known Clint for almost 12 years. We've been together for five or six of those years. This relationship is so easy, so natural. There's a huge age difference. We look at each other and we are aware of it. Even though people might think we aren't aware of it, we are.
Bruce Bastian: [01:47:00] I am happier than I've ever been in my life. He is my best friend. We spend almost 24/7 together and never get tired of each other. I don't think we've ever had an argument. We've gotten frustrated with each other, but we talk a lot. We build each other up a lot.
Bruce Bastian: [01:47:30] We've helped each other through some very difficult times, each other. Yeah, I mean, there were flings and affairs along the way, but really those are the only relationships I count as relationships.
Mason Funk: Then tell us again about the fact that you and Clint are now engaged.
Bruce Bastian: [01:48:00] Clint and I, you know, to the point where people thought we were married. Last winter, I think it was in, I think it was before Christmas. We were at dinner and we just looked at each other and said, "We really should just get married." So we are in June here. Hopefully outside.
Mason Funk: Yeah. [inaudible 01:48:31]. On another angle on the personal front, how have your
Mason Funk: [01:48:30] relationships with your sons evolved over time?
Bruce Bastian: I'm very fortunate because when Melanie and I divorced, it was an amicable separation. It wasn't easy, but it was friendly. I was always included in their family
Bruce Bastian: [01:49:00] get-togethers, their holiday whatever. My boyfriend at the time was never included, which hurt. I think it was not really beneficial to my relationship with my kids. I built this house with room
Bruce Bastian: [01:49:30] and things so that they could come and enjoy this house. They never have. They never have felt comfortable to be part of my life. Still, we had a loving good friendly relationship.Their mother got leukemia and passed away in 2016.
Bruce Bastian: [01:50:00] Since then, I think our relationship has become more honest, more on the table. I was awarded a key to the city in Salt Lake City a few months ago and two of my sons came. I know at least two,
Bruce Bastian: [01:50:30] probably three of them will be at the wedding. I'm still working on number four. It is evolving. I am trying to be more authentic about who I am, why I am, what I am. They're trying to get to know me better.
Bruce Bastian: [01:51:00] It's a slow process. I was probably at fault for not demanding that I spend time with them when they were younger. You can't make someone love you. You can't make someone understand you. You have to work at that and you have to be who you are in the hopes that they will let that in.
Bruce Bastian: [01:51:30] It's happening, but slowly.
Mason Funk: Kate, I always like to make time for Kate to ask questions. You'll answer me as if I asked it. Kate, do you have anything?
Kate Kunath: I am wondering about your community now here in Salt Lake city. Do you have gay friends
Kate Kunath: [01:52:00] that are of means like you are? I'm curious about that. Do you have high-powered friends that are gay, like a community like that?
Bruce Bastian: The gay community in Salt Lake City, the LGBT community in Salt Lake City is pretty close knit. We have some movers and shakers,
Bruce Bastian: [01:52:30] but they are the same movers and shakers that have been doing it for 20 years. I don't see a lot of, unfortunately I don't see a lot of younger enthusiastic people coming in that are also willing, they're ready to march. They're ready to yell. They're not really ready to write checks. Unfortunately
Bruce Bastian: [01:53:00] as much as you don't want to admit it, this work sometimes takes money.as much as you don't want to admit it, this work sometimes takes money.We have Equality Utah, which is an amazing wonderful state organization, which wouldn't be there had I not put the seed money in for it to get started. The Utah Pride Center is the same way. I'm still one of the major funders of the Utah Pride Center, even though
Bruce Bastian: [01:53:30] there are others. There are others. Some are not Theyre straight allies. Some of the biggest supporters of the Utah Pride Center are not even gay. Which is wonderful, because we need everybody, it needs to be a community center, not just an LGBT center.We have, I mean, there's Jim Dabakis who's a state Senator is wonderful and has been a strong voice for LGBT rights for many years.
Bruce Bastian: [01:54:00] We have other legislators, some of them are LGBT, some of which are not, but they are still there. They're there every time we need support and voices. I'm very fortunate. I feel very fortunate to be in a strong community. I just worry about the future because I don't see a lot of the same
Bruce Bastian: [01:54:30] enthusiasm on the same level. I see some, just not a lot.
Mason Funk: Do you have any other questions?
Kate Kunath: No, no.
Mason Funk: Okay. Let me check my list. By the way, if you feel like we've skipped anything, by all means speak up.
Mason Funk: [01:55:00] I think we've pretty much covered what you wrote in your questionnaire. I think we're good on that. You said, I think this was maybe in your questionnaire or elsewhere. You talked about the freedoms we fought for and the freedoms we've gained, the gains we've made as fragile. What do you mean by that?
Bruce Bastian: I do believe that the progress we've made is fragile.
Bruce Bastian: [01:55:30] I'm old enough to remember when the African-Americans got so many things they wanted passed into law in the 60s. That didn't make them equal. Racism is alive and well as most people will admit.
Bruce Bastian: [01:56:00] I do not think for a minute that the anti-LGBT forces that are out there are going to just fold their arms and say, "Okay, you win." That's not going to happen.They will do everything in their power to keep us subdued; to keep us feeling like we are second-class citizens; to do everything they can through religious channels, through legislative or political channels
Bruce Bastian: [01:56:30] to make us feel that we are less than they are. I've seen it happen in the race battles. I've seen it happen in just community levels. They're not going away. For us, oh, we have marriage equality now. Okay, done. No, not done. If anything, it's going to make them
Bruce Bastian: [01:57:00] more angry, then make the anti-LGBT side fight harder. We've seen it in abortion rights. We've seen it in African American rights. I don't see why we won't see that same scenario in LGBT rights.
Mason Funk: Good word of warning and word of caution. Do you consider yourself having grown up in the church,
Mason Funk: [01:57:30] that having been such a big part of your life for better and for worse, do you today think of yourself as kind of a spiritual person?
Bruce Bastian: I consider myself spiritually aware, spiritually in tune.
Bruce Bastian: [01:58:00] I don't like organized religion because I think everybody has that inner sense of right and wrong. Everybody has that, you know, the Holy Spirit or whatever you want to call it. Everybody has that inner voice telling them what needs to happen, telling them, prodding them along.
Bruce Bastian: [01:58:30] I think organized religion actually tries to silence that. Organized religion only wants you to do what they tell you is right. If you vary from what they tell you, oh, you have to be exed. We excommunicate you or you're not one of the chosen anymore.I believe that there's amazing, wonderful humanity
Bruce Bastian: [01:59:00] out there that need to be nurtured, that needs to grow. Look at the problems that we have world. The world is becoming way too overpopulated. The earth cannot sustain human growth the way it has happened the last century. Environmentally we have issues we need to tackle.
Bruce Bastian: [01:59:30] Religions aren't even promoting that. Do I have to be religious to be spiritual? If so, I am not spiritual. Can I be spiritual and hate religion? If that's true, I'm very spiritual.
Mason Funk: Great. Okay. There's always four questions we ask all of our people. This is almost like if you consider like the popcorn round.
Mason Funk: [02:00:00] Not really. You don't have to be that short. The first of those questions if somebody came to you tomorrow and said whoever part of this person is, whatever their issue is, if they said, "I'm thinking about coming out." What would be the nugget or the pearl of wisdom you would offer that person or guidance?
Bruce Bastian: I would tell a person that person cannot really be happy, truly authentically happy, until they are who they really are.
Bruce Bastian: [02:00:30] I think if someone is debating whether they should come out, my answer is always yes. Figure out a way. It doesn't have to be immediate. Figure out a way that you can put yourself on that path to come out.
Mason Funk: Great. What is your hope for the future?
Bruce Bastian: Oh, wow.
Bruce Bastian: [02:01:00] I hope that good people I do believe there are more good people in the world than there are bad people. I just think bad people are sometimes more energized than the good people. I hope that good people will start banding together and being together and really working for good. There's a lot of good that we need to work together to achieve.
Bruce Bastian: [02:01:30] I don't think it's going to be easy. I think we're going to get to the point where we almost have to save humanity. If the good people aren't banded together, it could be catastrophic. I do believe that the good will end, will be together good.
Mason Funk: Why is it important to you to tell your story?
Bruce Bastian: [02:02:00] I believe it's important for every person to tell his or her story. I really do. I think the strength I don't think we as individuals really understand how powerful, how influential each of us is. I do believe that we affect the people around us more than we realize we do. I think that's either for good or for bad. I think people watch us. People pay attention to
Bruce Bastian: [02:02:30] what we do more than we realize. I think if we have a chance to say this is who I am; this is what I believe and why; these are my experiences; then I think that's a good thing. I think we should all do it.
Mason Funk: Great. Lastly, this project, we call it Outwards, which you just learned a little bit about today and you know a bit about before. From your perspective,
Mason Funk: [02:03:00] why do you think a project like Outwards is worthwhile, is valuable? If you could refer to Outwards in your answer, that would be great.
Bruce Bastian: I think projects like Outwards are very powerful, very influential, and very important for nurturing, especially younger people. You know, people, we're all on a journey I believe. The more we can learn
Bruce Bastian: [02:03:30] from other people, especially positive influence, the better we are in developing our own lives. Outwards is going to be out there putting things for people to digest, to bring in and understand and build upon.
Mason Funk: I have a quick follow-up question. Kate and I were talking last night over dinner. Kate, help me remember this. We had a different impression of how outwards would be valuable to youth. I think ...
Bruce Bastian: [02:04:00] To youth?
Mason Funk: To youth. After all, it's kind of the idea. I think Kate thought it would be more of a cautionary, is that right? Like helping people to realize how far, how bad things were.
Kate Kunath: I think I was talking about a different perspective, not necessarily to capture the youth's imagination but everyone's, just to show the range from kids coming out today to
Kate Kunath: [02:04:30] older people and how they came out. They may want to see how far we've come or how we haven't come [inaudible 02:04:44] before.
Mason Funk: It's all probably pretty much the same idea. My big idea has been, because when I presented Outwards to groups of younger people, maybe this is my pipe dream. I feel like I'm introducing them to their grandparents. I feel like I'm saying, or your parents. Because probably their own biological parents and grandparents were gay. I feel like I'm saying,
Mason Funk: [02:05:00] "Here is your grandparents. Here are the people who went before you, like on the wagon trail." I don't know.
Bruce Bastian: Yeah. I think it is kind of like pioneers. I think Outwards is building up a library of experiences and examples. I think, yes, it's very valuable to younger people but I think it's very valuable
Bruce Bastian: [02:05:30] to older people. I think it would be very valuable to some politician who doesn't even understand what being LGBT is even like to sit and listen to some of these and say, "Oh, that's what these are the people are fighting against." Yeah, these are the people you're fighting against. I think it would be very valuable to a number of areas, but especially younger people
Bruce Bastian: [02:06:00] were just trying to figure out who the hell they are. Everybody's different. Everyone is different. I believe we're all on our own path. Half of life is trying to figure out what that path is.
Mason Funk: That's great. Thank you very, very much.
Bruce Bastian: You're welcome. I hope it hasn't been a waste of your time.
Mason Funk: Not in a million years. It was really interesting. I appreciate it. We're going to record the sound of this room with nobody talking, we call it room tone, for 30 seconds.
Bruce Bastian: [02:06:30] Okay.
Kate Kunath: Okay.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Bruce Bastian: This is a pretty quiet room.
Kate Kunath: It's really quiet.
Bruce Bastian: [02:07:00] When there's no phones ringing.
Mason Funk: Yeah. It's blissfully quiet.

Interviewed by: Mason Funk
Camera: Kate Kunath
Date: April 19, 2018
Location: Home of Bruce Bastian, Orem, UT