The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not condone same-sex marriage. But for Dan Reynolds, the frontman of Grammy-winning band Imagine Dragons, that official position doesn’t mean its followers have to shun the LGBTQ kids in their communities and homes. In fact, Reynolds — the powerful voice behind blockbuster hits like “Believer” and “Thunder” and a Mormon himself — insists that the church is facing a crisis of teen depression and suicide.
“To our LGBTQ youth, I’d say: I’m here in any way possible,” Reynolds says about his current calling. “I promise to be the best missionary I can — a Mormon missionary for the LGBTQ community — and to hopefully use this privilege I’ve been given to give them a voice.”
To that end, he recently released a documentary with Live Nation Productions and HBO, Believer, which follows his path to putting on the inaugural LoveLoud Festival last year in Utah, a charity concert intended to bring together people to “unconditionally love, understand, accept, and support LGBTQ+ youth.” It drew over 15,000 attendees. On July 28 he’ll headline the second LoveLoud Festival in Salt Lake City, joined by major music acts like Zedd, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and young star Grace VanderWaal. (All proceeds go towards LGBTQ+ charities.)
Reynolds opened up to TIME about his own battle with depression and the journey he’s on — as a Mormon and as a musician — to change his church from the inside out.
TIME: How has the response been so far to the documentary?
Reynolds: The most powerful part to me is just getting letters or emails or tweets from kids who have felt like it has enabled them to come out to their families. There are a lot of families that have reached out after watching it together. And that for me is the goal: to get these Mormon families to sit down and have these discussions. I’ve had so many parents ask me, So when should you talk about what it means to be gay or LGBTQ with a child? I don’t think there’s any age that’s too young. We read these stories of princes and princesses to our kids at three, four. As soon as they understand romance, it’s celebrated. In the same way, we have to celebrate our LGBTQ youth.
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Source:: Time – Entertainment