Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds: Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community
For Gay Pride Month, Billboard asked numerous pop culture luminaries to write "love letters" to the LGBTQ community. Below, Imagine Dragons' lead singer Dan Reynolds shares his. Reynolds is the founder of LoveLoud Festival and created Believer, a documentary in which he explores how the Mormon church treats its LGBTQ members. Read more Pride Month love letters here.
Raised as a devout Mormon in a very conservative home, I spent many years in conflict between the teaching of the faith and what my heart was telling me. I had many friends who were LGBTQ and Mormon that lived with constant anxiety and guilt because they were being taught that their innate sense of being, their most beautiful and sacred right to love, was flawed and sinful. I saw how hard they fought every day to hide it from their Mormon families. To try to force themselves to change their identity, but of course they could not.
As I got older and found the courage and agency to follow my own heart and mind, I let myself follow and speak MY truth that I've known since I was old enough to understand love: that being gay is perfect and in fact beautiful, as is all love. It should be celebrated and shouted from the rooftops. Our LGBTQ youth should know that they are truly accepted in their homes and communities. What does it mean to truly accept our LGBTQ youth? It does not simply mean to "love" - it means you give true validity and fully embrace and support diverse sexual orientations. You do not see one's sexuality as "incorrect" or "sinful." Love is an empty word otherwise.
Religious leaders can speak all day about how much they "love" our LGBTQ youth, but until they change their dangerous doctrine that implies or states that LGBTQ youth are living in "sin" when acting upon their sexuality, they are contributing towards increased depression and anxiety in the lives of our LGBTQ youth as well has suicide. We know that our LGBTQ youth are eight times more likely to take their lives when not accepted in their homes and communities. They aren't choosing to love the way that they do. They aren't choosing a life of people casting judgmental eyes upon them. They aren't crying for attention. They simply want to love the way that their heart tells them to love. And they deserve to be LOVED, not "tolerated."
To our LGBTQ youth. I LOVE YOU. Fully. Completely. I celebrate you. You are beautiful and worthy of love. I hope you let yourself find it and find peace and security in that place. You deserve it. I will fight for you.
I spent far too many years as a confused Mormon. I am no longer confused. I am still a Mormon, but I am one with open eyes and open arms. I give you my word that I will do all I can to create dialogue that leads to change within communities of faith, for that is where change needs to happen most.
I hope you can forgive years of intolerance and injustice to you. Years of judgment. We are a flawed people. And truly, orthodox religion is not a safe place for you, our LGBTQ youth, in its current state. However, I am not one to know what is correct or safe for you in your current state of being. If you don't feel safe to live your truth due to family or your situation, just know that you are not alone.
There are many people like you that have gone on to be extraordinary beings. Changing the world, in fact. And until you get to that safe place, there are many resources for you find help and love. One of my favorites is the Trevor Project. They are just a phone call away. Waiting to hear you and help you. Please never take your life away from us. We need you. We need your color and unique spirit. The world is a dull place without you.
I love you and TRULY accept you.
Love is love,
Imagine Dragons / Founder LoveLoud Festival
Believer premieres on Monday, June 25 at 9/8c on HBO. Watch the trailer below.