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LoveLoud organizers: making progress, but still work to do

AT&T Pacific Region President Ken McNeely, Trevor Project CEO Amit Paley, Tegan & Sara singer Tegan Quin, Imagine Dragons singer and LoveLoud Founder Dan Reynolds, LoveLoud Executive Director Lance Lowry, and Encircle CEO Stephanie Larsen hold press conference morning of LoveLoud Festival (Photo: Nick Wyatt, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — Is the LoveLoud Festival, aimed at supporting LGBTQ youth and reducing suicide rates, achieving its goal? Festival organizers believe it is.


Nevermind that this year’s LoveLoud attendance nearly doubled from last year, those involved with the festival feel their efforts are making an impact.

LoveLoud Executive Director Lance Lowry explains how the festival and foundation have started a conversation.

“It’s not something that’s being ignored anymore,” says Lowry. “We’re actually talking about it and that is one big step.”

Imagine Dragons frontman and LoveLoud founder Dan Reynolds says his advocacy for the LGBTQ community has put a strain on his relationships with friends and family. Reynolds’ parents planned to attend this year’s LoveLoud, and he says a recent conversation with them before the festival exhibits the progress being made.

“My dad said, ‘you know, we’re old and a lot of these things are new for us, and we’re learning. We have our faith, and our testimony, but we’re here because we feel like we need to be here,'” explains Reynolds. “That’s everything to me for a first step.”

Stephanie Larsen, CEO of Encircle, a Utah-based LGBTQ family resource center, says last year’s LoveLoud was the beginning of real change.

“People were so touched in Utah Valley by those messages of love and inclusion, and what real Christianity is,” says Larsen. “We have bishops showing up to go through volunteer training. Relief Society presidents saying ‘we need to understand this, we can do better.'”

Despite the progress, LoveLoud organizers say there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Reynolds says, “I want to see the headline ‘The most Mormon state in America is now the lowest suicide rate for LGBTQ youth, is now the most accepting, is now the place to be.'”

The impassioned musician wants to be clear about LoveLoud’s approach. He wants to make an impact on all religious communities across the country.

“This is not a Mormon problem,” explains Reynolds. “This is an orthodox religion issue. One of the root problems of stigmatizing what it is to be LGBTQ and putting the shame on these children, really comes from orthodox religion.”

Reynolds looks forward to a day when LoveLoud is no longer needed.

If you, or someone you know, are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. Both offer 24/7 support.