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Remembering Utah gay activist David Nelson

On June 11th, 2024, David K. Nelson passed away at the age of 62 in Salt Lake City. Q Salt Lake has published a thorough obituary about Nelson’s life, activism and accomplishments. While his work for the LGBTQIA+ community is well documented, his archival contributions have been a great addition to the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Special Collections.  

David Nelson papers, 1983-2012 

In 2013, David Nelson donated 9 boxes full of documents, memorabilia and news clippings spanning his tenure as an activist for the rights of Utah’s LGBTQIA+ community. Some notable items from the collections are photos with then Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, a drawing from Utah editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley and several photos from Utah Pride events.  

David Nelson being interviewed in 2012 for a celebration of the 20th anniversary of an anti-discrimination ordinance that Nelson originally wrote.
David Nelson meeting Vice President Al Gore in 1996 in Washington.
A cartoon by Utah editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley addressed to Nelson.

Additionally, his contributions such as newsletters, publications and groups that he established are represented in the Utah Pride Center collection. Both collections are available at the Marriott Library and can be seen by making an appointment. 

Through his activism, Nelson contributed to advancements in gay rights in Utah and the fruits of his work are still seen today. The library is honored to be able to preserve such important pieces of history to ensure that these efforts won’t be forgotten.  

A group of activists on the stairway of the Salt Lake City Capitol building. The photo was featured in Salt Lake Magazine in 1991.
Another photo from 1991 Salt Lake Magazine featuring activists in Utah.

Questions about this collection or other special media documents? Send your questions using this form.

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