The lead singer of Imagine Dragons, Dan Reynolds, is stirring the pot between The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints and LGBTQ+ community with the Sundance film “Believer.”
Reynolds was born and raised within the LDS religion and Utah community. When he was 19, he served an LDS mission in Nebraska and enrolled in Brigham Young University. “Believer,” showcases his experience within the LDS church, his continued support of it and his new mission to push for change within its community in relation to LGBTQ+ issues.
“Believer,” shows a behind-the-scenes look at the making and the purpose of the LoveLoud Festival, which was held at Utah Valley University at Brent Brown Ballpark on Aug. 26, 2017. The purpose of the festival was to create a safe place to put differences aside between the LGBTQ+ and faith communities to promote love and acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth.
The organization of the event prompted the LDS church to release a statement to the Deseret News saying, “We applaud the LoveLoud Festival for LGBTQ 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,” the statement continued. “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 organized the event regarding a study released in 2017. The rate of youth ages 10 to 17 dying by suicide in Utah has increased an average of 22.8 percent each year from 2011 to 2015. Nationally, the rate increased an average of 6 percent over the same time period.
The study found suicide to be more common among sexual minority youth compared to heterosexual youth. It also found that over half of Utahns are affiliated with the LDS church. No correlation was found between the two.
Reynolds reached out to Tyler Glenn, the lead singer of Neon Trees, to start the LoveLoud Festival. Glenn served an LDS mission in Nebraska, crossing paths with Reynolds. Glenn moved to Provo, Utah in 2005 and started his band, Neon Trees.
The first showing of the documentary was released at the Sundance festival on Jan. 20.
The show started at 8:45 at night, and I thought to myself, “No way am I going to make it through this entire movie,” but it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I shed a few tears (okay, like a billion) and hung on to every word.
I have never seen a movie openly challenge the LDS church in the way I saw Reynolds do. In no way did Reynolds talk bad about the church or tell them they were wrong. He simply asked them to do better.
Reynolds used his experience with the church and the experience of LGBTQ+ youth to motivate his movement. The documentary highlighted tragic and motivational stories within the LDS and LGBTQ+ community to give proof to why Reynolds is using his voice to create this movement.
This documentary made me appreciate Reynolds for using his platform to create a voice for this issue. These issues within the LDS community are often overlooked by the general population, butby using his voice, Reynolds is bringing the awareness to the general population.
In a Q&A following the screening, Reynolds said his crew is working to get the film in Utah theaters.
— Carson Wolf