Dan Reynolds, frontman from the rock band Imagine Dragons, is creating a whole movement and a new foundation. Depicted in the new HBO documentary Believer, Reynolds set out on a journey in 2017 to stand up for the LGBTQ community while making a music festival in Salt Lake City.
Teaming with a fellow former Mormon Tyler Glenn, the two set out to raise money for organizations like The Trevor Project, Tegan and Sara Foundation and other Utah-based LGBTQ charities.
After a successful first year, the event has expanded this year with more artists such as DJ ZEDD, Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda and host Cameron Esposito.
Currently touring with Imagine Dragons brought Reynolds to the Chicago area where he juggled promoting the LOVELOUD Foundation with his schedule.
At the AT&T Flagship store a panel was conducted on July 12 for the attendees to speak on how they can be involved in their communities. The discussion was emceed by Muneer Panjwani, head of corporate development at The Trevor Project. The panel consisted of chief operations office for LOVELOUD Jacob Dunford, Center on Halsted's community outreach and engagement coordinator Joanna Thompson and trans activist Avery Kaplan.
A video was shown featuring RuPaul's Drag Racer Carmen Carrera who was in attendance and talked about The Trevor Project. AT&T recently donated $1 million to The Trevor Project, the organization providing suicide prevention to LGBTQ+ people.
Before the night's talkback, Reynolds spoke on his heartfelt work for the community with Windy City Times.
Windy City Times: What is your connection to LGBT issues, in the first place?
Dan Reynolds: I think it even started back in middle school. One of my best friends was gay and he was Mormon. I was raised Mormon. I saw firsthand how people had to deal with the church and their sexuality. People shouldn't have to choose between this. People are created perfect and beautiful. There is a part of religion that is literally killing our youth.
I think many people looking from the outside would ask me to leave religion out of it and tell these kids to live without their religion. That is a naive approach because people are getting kicked out of their homes. It is not to simply leave religion out. It is a cultural part of a lot of these kid's lives. We have to say enough is enough. I am using my voice and platform to make change.
The question, really, is "What can we do to help them?"
Until they get old enough to make their own decisions it is about changing the culture. If the leaders aren't going to change the harmful doctorate then we as people can change the culture. That is the goal.
WCT: What is the LOVELOUD Festival, for people that don't know?
DR: It is a music festival to shine a light on LGBTQ issues. We have speakers and guests from the LGBTQ community to talk about how they are living healthy lives and celebrate that. I think that's important that the youth see someone doing great things. The youth can have someone to look up to.
WCT: I have seen you play Lollapalooza several times. What did you take playing big festivals that helped you with LOVELOUD?
DR: That is a great question. Music has the ability to bring people together from different backgrounds, whether it is political, religious or cultural and have them unite for one cause, which is music. I thought it would be a great way to bring together communities that are separated right now, Orthodox religion and the LGBTQ community. They are at odds quite often.
Let's be honest, it is because it's not a safe space for LGBTQ youth. The goal is to at least agree on one thing, which is that we are losing lives of our youth to religious guilt undeniably. If we can at least start there with the conversation we can hopefully save some lives.
WCT: What do you plan to do this July that is different than the last LOVELOUD?
DR: First of all, we have so many amazing speakers. I wish I could tell you them all, but we are just starting to announce it. There are a lot of powerful people that are going to get up and talk to our LGBTQ youth.
I think the emphasis this year is all about putting that spotlight on the LGBTQ youth. For me as a privileged, white, heterosexual male I feel like LOVELOUD started because of Imagine Dragons and this privilege I have been given. What I want to do is take that and shine it where it needs to be shined, which is on the youth.
This year, I am trying to maximize stories and hopefully make a safer community.
WCT: What is one thing you learned from Tyler Glenn?
DR: Tyler is the greatest. I love that man with all of my heart. We served in the same Mormon mission. We have grown so close in this whole process. One thing I learned about him is his resilience.
I think anyone who grows up in a religious community you have to have a certain resilience and courage that Tyler has.
WCT: The Imagine Dragons song "Thunder" is about being different. Is it a gay anthem?
DR: I hope it is! Yes, it is all about living your truth and not fitting in a box to be okay with that. It is about not conforming to anybody because people that try to tell you that they know the truth or the way are the people you should stay away from. That is dangerous.
WCT: How is the rest of Imagine Dragons about the LGBT rights?
DR: They are so behind it and so supportive.
WCT: Would you ever move LOVELOUD to another location, like Chicago?
DR: I would love to expand LOVELOUD. There are a lot of cities around the US and the world that need this. They need this dialogue. We are starting in Utah, but we have a team that is determined to take this message to the world.
Imagine Dragons headlines the second annual LOVELOUD festival on Saturday, July 28; visit LoveLoudFest.com .