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Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Imagine Dragons Lead Dan Reynolds Hosts Festival For LGBTQ Youth With Blessing Of LDS Church

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds is hosting the LoveLoud music Festival in Orem, Utah on August 26 to benefit LGBTQ youth with the explicit blessing of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The singer, acknowledging that his life as a musician requires him to be an entrepreneur, says he avoids the business side as much as possible to focus on the creative side, adding that the mission of bringing people together influences his work.

In a face-to-face conversation you can watch in the video player at the top of the article, Reynolds says the mission of the music festival is “to provide a platform–a place–where the community can all come together from all different political climates–religion, non-religion, whatever it is–where everyone from all different cultures come together and agree on one thing.”

The one thing, he says, is to acknowledge that LGBTQ youth have a difficult time, especially in the context of “raising a family of faith.”

“The goal,” he continues, “is to provide a safe place where we can all agree on one thing: love.”

Orem is located in Utah County. Over 93 percent of people in Orem are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons have a complex relationship with the LGBTQ community, at once advocating for loving and respecting LGBTQ people while at the same time pronouncing homosexual sex a sin, even within the context of marriage.

In a prepared statement, Reynolds noted that suicide is the leading cause of death in teens in Utah and that LGBTQ+ youth who come from a home or community where they are not accepted are eight times more likely to commit suicide.

The LDS Church issued a formal statement regarding the LoveLoud Festival:

We applaud the LoveLoud Festival for LGBT youth’s aim to bring people together to address teen safety and to express respect and love for all of God’s children. We join our voice with all who come together to foster a community of inclusion in which no one is mistreated because of who they are or what they believe.

We share common beliefs, among them the pricelessness of our youth and the value of families. We earnestly hope this festival and other related efforts can build respectful communication, better understanding and civility as we all learn from each other.

Reynolds was raised a Mormon, was a Boy Scout who earned his Eagle rank and also served a two-year proselyting mission to Nebraska. He acknowledges that these experiences helped shape his life and influence his music.

Dan Reynolds, Imagine Dragons

Speaking of his mission, he says, “It was powerful for me so I’m sure it finds its way into my music.”

“As for Boy Scouts, I don’t know if necessarily, you know, lighting fires informs my music,” he says, laughing. He notes more soberly that his character probably was shaped in part by his experiences in Scouting.

For Reynolds, the Church’s support is a big deal that he personally worked to earn. “It’s incredible! Today marks a moment of great healing.”

This is important to Reynolds because it will help attract people who are “a little more conservative.” He wants the event to be a safe space for everyone, not just progressives.

Reynolds will perform with Imagine Dragons at LoveLoud, along with Neon Trees, Krewella, Nicholas Petricca of Walk the Moon, Joshua James and Aja Volkman.

The festival will also feature commentary from young LGBTQ people and their parents. “The dialogue can be powerful towards opening hearts and minds and creating, hopefully, a more loving environment,” Reynolds says.

The proceeds from the event will go to support nonprofits that support LGBTQ youth, including Encircle, Stand4Kind, The Trevor Project and GLAAD.

Encircle founder and executive director, Stephenie Larsen, says, “Dan is a beautiful person with a huge heart and an important mission. He is selflessly giving his heart and soul to help the LGBTQ community see the incredible individuals that they are. He spent a day at Encircle a few months ago. All day he took photos with the youth and had conversations with them. I watched him looking these kids in the eyes trying to communicate to them the love and support he has for them. It was if he was doing all that he could to take away any pain they may be feeling.”

Reynolds, the musician and reluctant entrepreneur on a mission to bring people together, may have been in a unique position to do so. Because of his support for the LGBTQ community and his LDS roots, providing support from both sides, he may bring the community together. We’ll see on August 26 if his vision for healing, unity and love for LGBTQ youth is realized.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

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