Neon Trees lead singer Tyler Glenn says he’s known he was gay since he was 6-years-old, and now so does the rest of the world.
The 30-year-old devout Mormon rock star from Provo, Utah came out to the public in a new Rolling Stone interview published Tuesday.
“I had my crushes on guys throughout high school, but it was never an overwhelming thing until my twenties,” Glenn told the publication of his struggles to reveal his sexuality. “Then I’d be dating girls and in love with my straight friend and it was the worst feeling in the world.”
While the singer began dating men in his early twenties, it wasn’t until 2013 that he began unveiling that side of himself through the music he was writing for the band’s upcoming third album, “Pop Psychology.” The album’s producer, Tim Pagnotta, was the first to hear the news, and his reaction inspired Glenn to keep sharing it with others.
“He was like, ‘Tyler, I love you, and I’m so excited for you.’ And that’s when I was like, ‘Really? Wait. It’s OK’?” the singer recalled. “It blew my mind. This changes everything. And of course then I wanted to tell the person next to me on the plane.”
Technically, Glenn already came out to friends and fans through his music. “Sleeping with a Friend,” the band’s hit single that landed on the radio ahead of their next album’s Apr. 22 release, is based on a sexual fling with a straight man.
Glenn is the latest celebrity to step out of the closet, joining Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page, actor Wentworth Miller, “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, and even several sports stars, including NFL prospect Michael Sam and NBA player Jason Collins.
“I really love all of the sports figures that are coming out recently,” Glenn said. “I appreciated that Michael Sam was like, ‘I want to be able to go to the movies and hold hands with my boyfriend.’ Even hearing him say ‘boyfriend,’ I was just like, that’s cool.”
With his biggest secret out in the open for his fans and fellow Mormons — a religious group that considers homosexuality a “serious transgression,” and one that spent millions fighting same-sex marriage in California during the battle over Proposition 8 — Glenn hopes his music will help pave the way for a new standard in pop culture.
“I’ve gotten tired of kind of gay or straight people being pop culture’s gay [spokespeople] – like Macklemore,” he said. “It makes me wonder, ‘Are we ready for an actual gay pop star and not just the safe straight guy saying it’s OK’? ”
In a Facebook post on Monday night, Glenn thanked fans, family, friends and strangers for the support, while encouraging others to “come out,” as well.
“If you’re like me, a wanderer, a questioner, a soul searcher, a dreamer, or misunderstood for any reason at all: Come out,” Glenn wrote. “Come out as a wanderer. Come out as a questioner. One day it wont matter. But it still does. Come out as YOU. That’s all I really can say. That’s what i’d say to me at 21, the scared return mormon missionary who knew this part of himself but loved God too. You can do both. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. “