From hosting benefit concerts for LGBTQ youth to working with and supporting queer artists, Reynolds has shown time and time again that he is willing to go to bat for the LGBTQ community. In honor of Imagine Dragons’ new album Origins -- out today (Nov. 9) -- here are eight times he showed his peers how to be the best kind of straight ally.
He put his money where his mouth is with his annual LoveLoud Festival
Speaking up for the LGBTQ community is certainly part of an ally’s job, but actions always speak louder than words. Reynolds showed that he wants to actually make a difference when he debuted the now-annual LoveLoud Festival back in 2017. A festival dedicated to raising money and awareness for at-risk LGBTQ youth, LoveLoud has raised over $1 million for LGBTQ organizations like The Trevor Project and Encircle.
He spoke up about the plight of LGBTQ Mormon youth with his documentary Believer
After debuting the first ever LoveLoud festival, Reynolds decided to let the world in on what made him decide to do something with his HBO documentary Believer. The film follows Reynolds as he meets with and talks to young queer people who were involved at some point as Mormons. The film discusses Utah’s high LGBTQ youth suicide rates, the internal struggle for balance between religion and queerness and what it means to be a true ally, showing Reynolds' journey from well-intentioned performer to bonafide straight ally.
He worked with queer superstar Justin Tranter on “Believer”
Reynolds has gone on the record to say Imagine Dragons’ smash-hit single “Believer” is meant as an anthem for LGBTQ people living through dark times. But what many may not know is that queer songwriter Justin Tranter co-wrote the song with Reynolds, expressing his anxiety about the future of the LGBTQ community in our dark political moment. Reynolds not only worked with Tranter to make his song as authentic as possible, but he also recognized Tranter for his contribution at a concert for GLAAD by singing the song with him as a duet.
He showed how to give LGBTQ people the spotlight with his “Turn Up the Love” series
While it is always great when allies speak up for the LGBTQ community, sometimes the job of an ally should be to use their platform to uplift voices from the community. Reynolds did exactly that with his “Turn Up the Love” series with AT&T during Pride Month in 2018. In his six-part video series, Reynolds spoke with six different LGBTQ entertainers and activists about important issues the community is facing and how to reach a greater place of acceptance, showing that sometimes, the best kind of allyship shines the spotlight away from yourself.
He demonstrated how to change with his 2017 speech at TrevorLIVE
Back in 2017, Reynolds was awarded The Trevor Project’s annual Hero Award for individuals who have made an effort to uplift and support LGBTQ people everywhere. But during his acceptance speech at the 2017 TrevorLIVE event, Reynolds took the opportunity to share his story of going on his Mormon mission trip, where he taught people for two years that being gay was a sin. Instead of making excuses, Reynolds owned up to those two years and apologized to the LGBTQ community at large. “I wish I could re-knock all of those doors and tell them that I was wrong,” he said tearfully. It just goes to show that allyship doesn’t mean being perfect, it simply means taking responsibility for past actions and making yourself better.
He sent love directly to the LGBTQ community in a love letter
Throughout his career, Reynolds has been able to speak directly to his LGBTQ fans on a regular basis. But perhaps no other statement made by the singer was as direct or as personal as the love letter he wrote to the LGBTQ community for Billboard back in June. Speaking about his Mormon upbringing and his realization that he needed to be an advocate for the community, Reynolds made certain to tell those reading that they were loved endlessly. “To our LGBTQ youth. I LOVE YOU,” he wrote. “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.”
He called out Eminem for his homophobic lyrics on Kamikaze
Rapper Eminem has made headlines before about his use of the word “f----t” on previous tracks. He made headlines again earlier this year when he used a censored-out version of the word to make fun of Tyler, the Creator on his track “The Fall” from his album Kamikaze. While Em defended his use of the word in the past -- saying he never used it to specifically bash queer people -- Reynolds, one of his peers and a major voice in the music industry, unabashedly called him out. “I don’t care what year you were born in or what meaning it has to you,” he wrote on Twitter. “If it contributes to hate and bigotry then it is hateful. Period.” While some simply called its use “uncalled for,” Reynolds made clear why the word is never okay to use in any circumstance.
He wrote a new song about accepting people as they are called “Love”
Even on Imagine Dragons’ brand new album, Reynolds sent a message to his LGBTQ fans in the album’s closing track, “Love.” The song is about learning to find a common ground of acceptance and love, and it fits hand-in-hand with his constant advocacy for LGBTQ issues. “We got the same heartbeat/ We’re living for the same dreams/ We got the same bloodstream,” he sings on the track, reminding everyone that at the end of the day, regardless of race, gender or sexuality, we’re all still human.