Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds sat down with TheWrap’s Beatrice Verhoeven to discuss the culture of shame that surrounds Mormonism when it comes to LGBT issues and sexuality in the documentary “Believer.”
The new rock doc from director Dan Argott that is premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival follows Reynolds, himself a part of a Mormon family, as Imagine Dragons hosts the LoveLoud music festival in Utah amidst the ongoing conflict of gay rights in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
A week before the start of freshman year, Reynolds was kicked out of Brigham Young University after admitting to premarital sex with his high school girlfriend. He was later readmitted, but had another awakening when the gay roommates of his future wife, Aja Volkman, became upset that Volkman was dating a Mormon because of LDS’ support for California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage.
Reynolds discussed with Verhoeven the struggle it took to find a venue in Utah to host the LoveLoud festival, as many local officials did not want the event to include the word “acceptance” in its promotion and stage banners. But the festival found a venue in Provo, where BYU is located, following the suicide death of festival director Lance Lowry’s brother, who had been expelled from the university for premarital sex as Reynolds did.
Reynolds maintains he will put on the festival every year until he sees significant progress.
“That shame spiraled him into a depression, and he took his life in Provo,” Reynolds said. “Lance came up to us and said, ‘Dan, you told us that if we couldn’t get a place for this, we would find a soapbox and we would stand up in a park in Salt Lake or in Provo and we would shout that this needed to change.’”
Watch Reynolds remarks in the video above.