Imagine Dragons Launches LGBTQ Music Festival to Address Youth Suicide Rates


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Kathmandu (Pahichan) August 16 – The Mormon singer has teamed up with GLAAD, the Trevor ProjectEncircle, and STAND4KIND to create the LoveLoud Festival celebrating the LGBTQ community. Mormon and openly gay singer Tyler Glenn is also headlining the music festival, along with Imagine Dragons, Krewella, Nicholas Petricca from Walk the Moon, Joshua James, and Aja Volkman.

Reynolds grew up Mormon in Utah and understands how damaging that kind of conservative and uncompromising environment can be. “I’ve always been taught within Mormonism that to be gay was a sin. I didn’t think much of it [and] didn’t have many people surrounding me who were gay,” he told Out Magazine. “I came to the realization the last couple of years that I couldn’t stand as a quiet pacifist. The band took off and I became this spotlight Mormon. I really felt that my heart had become more compassionate about some of the harms that come from religion. I thought that by not speaking out, I was doing a big disservice to my community, and also the people who follow my band.”

Reynolds realized that even he had suffered from spiritual abuse growing up in such a strict household. “I felt guilty about things that, as I got older, realized I shouldn’t feel guilty about, and that messed me up in a lot of ways. It messed me up in my sexuality and it also messed me up as far as depression,” he explained. “It made me realize a much more scarring experience would be someone who’s LGBTQ and told that their most innate sense of being and most innate, unchangeable sense of sexuality, which is the most beautiful thing to celebrate, is sinful. I’ve seen now over the last couple of years the damage that does, whether it’s youth getting kicked out of their homes or it’s a life of feeling sinful, dirty or wrong and repressing themselves—or worse, suicide.”

Suicide rates are significantly higher among LGBTQ youth and is the leading cause of death among teenagers in Reynold’s home state of Utah. “If a child is not accepted in their home, they’re more likely to commit suicide or use drugs,” Reynolds explained. “It’s really opened my eyes about what can come from teaching children that their lifestyle is sinful. I have a lot of regret that I hold about standing for this many years in silence and I just want to do everything I can do help our LGBTQ youth know they are not sinful. They’re perfect, wonderful and lovely the way they are, and if there is a God, that God loves them. For me, I’m just on this journey to raise awareness for my community and hopefully move out to raise awareness outside of Mormonism about how we can be better support LGBTQ youth.”

Reynolds hopes the LoveLoud festival will spark much-needed conversations around LGBTQ youth not only with his fans but specifically in the Mormon church and inside Mormon households. “What does it mean to love and accept in the home, and how can parents be prepared for that? It’s a difficult, tender discussion to have, but I think it needs to happen as opposed to turning a blind eye to it,” he said. “That discussion is clutch to the beginning of leaning towards more open dialogue about what it means to be loving and accepting.”

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