Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds began waving Pride flags at his band’s concerts during the Lollapalooza Brazil Festival at São Paulo’s Interlagos Racetrack. That is one small gesture among many that range up to dedicating blood, sweat, and tears to create a concert and a foundation aimed at eliminating LGBT teen suicide.
So how did this 30-year-old Mormon rock star become one of the music industry’s loudest LGBT allies? And how about the Provo-based band members that perform at every concert with him?
Raised in a Mormon family in Las Vegas, Reynolds says he’s a Mormon and supports the orthodox community, “but I believe we all can be educated on the matter to create positive change.”
As a young adult Reynolds served the church for two years as a missionary in Omaha, Neb., where he “knocked [on] thousands of doors” and told people that being gay was a sin.
“The doctrine is, if you are gay and acting upon it, that is sinful,” he said.
At the June 19, 2017, TrevorLIVE benefit, a fundraiser for The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ suicide prevention organization, Reynolds confessed, “I wish I could re-knock [on] all those doors and tell them that I was wrong.”
“To be gay is beautiful and right and perfect. To tell someone they need to change their inner-most being is setting up someone for an unhealthy life and unhealthy foundation,” he said when accepting Project’s 2017 Hero Award.
“I know a lot of Mormon youth who are gay and hide it because they feel as though God hates them or God is judging them,” he said. “In Utah, the number one reason for death among teenagers is suicide.”
In the documentary, Believer, Reynolds and Neon Trees lead singer Tyler Glenn, openly gay and former Mormon, navigate their way through the issues of queerness and Mormonism, ultimately creating LoveLoud, a music and spoken-word festival designed to start a dialogue between the Mormon Church and the LGBT community.
Reynolds has also taken to Twitter to urge fans to support transgender students, writing, “Our LGBTQ youth need you. They need us to adopt policies that protect their well being and health. We must step up.”
He even used his acceptance speech at the 2017 American Music Awards to help empower LGBTQ youth.
“This is the country I know, which is of powerful women, talking about our women, talking about empowering our LGBTQ youth,” he said. “May we continue to progress as a nation as one of love and equality. No divide. There’s been way too much of that this last year.”