LGBTQ youth fall in love with LOVELOUD Festival

On a beautiful day - and into the evening - in Orem, Utah, more than 17,000 fans, friends, and members of the LGBTQ and Mormon communities crowded into Brent Brown Ballpark to attend the first-ever LOVELOUD Festival.

LOVELOUD, the creation of Imagine Dragons front man, Dan Reynolds, served as a benefit concert and evening of celebration for LGBTQ youth. The event featured stellar performances from Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, Krewella, Nicholas Petricca of Walk the Moon, Joshua James, and Aja Volkman, as well as inspirational speeches from a number of notable advocates and celebrities including Julianne Hough, Steve Young, Mindy Glendhill, and more. 

Photo credit: Phoebe Melikidse

Designed to ignite the relevant and vital conversation of what it means to unconditionally love, understand, accept, and support LGBTQ youth, the performers took multiple opportunities in interviews and on stage to proclaim their love and acceptance for LGBTQ people. In a pre-concert press conference, Reynolds professed a strong belief that his home state of Utah was not only ready, but excited to share this moment within their own LGBTQ and Mormon communities. Reynolds said, “I know that there’s a community here that’s been waiting to shout and scream as loud as they can about how much they love and accept their LGBTQ youth.”

In a powerful on stage moment, Reynolds, along with Tyler Glenn, sang “I’ll Walk with You,” a primary song of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Glenn, who came out as gay in 2014 and performed a moving set with his band Neon Trees, broke down on stage when discussing how meaningful it was for him to be back in Utah, singing in front of a crowd that was willing to hear from him and others about LGBTQ love and acceptance.

Reynolds, who truly set the tone for a day of love, music, and acceptance, performed an incredible set with Imagine Dragons while between songs delivering powerful words directed towards the queer youth in the audience. Addressing the crowd he said, "I hope, I pray, not one more youth will feel the need to commit suicide. Please, we love you. We need you.”

From the GLAAD booth, where we were giving away stickers and information about our youth programming, we met with many young people, some of which were attending their first ever concert, and got the chance to hear how thrilled they were to be at an event with bands they loved that celebrated their identities as LGBTQ.

One young person came over to the GLAAD table and exclaimed that they were “shooketh” to see that 20% of millennials identify as LGBTQ, a statistic we were sharing from the 2017 GLAAD report, Accelerating Acceptance. If you don’t know what ‘shooketh’ means, you may be too old for our youth programming… but no one is too old or young to understand that LGBTQ youth are not just the biggest LGBTQ population, but are striving to live their lives as fully and authentically as possible.

For the final song of the evening, Imagine Dragons played “It’s Time” with intention. In a 2012 episode of Glee, “It’s Time” was sung by Blaine (Darren Criss) to his boyfriend Kurt (Chris Colfer). Ever since, the song has become an acceptance anthem for Imagine Dragons and Reynolds, as they look to continue their support for LGBTQ young people.

Every day, GLAAD is proud to work on behalf of bettering the lives and experiences of LGBTQ youth, but there are some days that blissfully overwhelm the most learned advocate–LOVELOUD fest was one of those days. LOVELOUD is more than a concert – it is progress and empathy manifested. GLAAD is honored to be a part of the larger push for acceptance for LGBTQ people in the music and entertainment industry, and we commend Dan Reynolds, and all performers and participants for their hard work and commitment to supporting LGBTQ youth.