Reynolds Throws Festival for LGBTQ Youth Makers

Mormon Musician Dan Reynolds Throws Festival for LGBTQ Youth

Love loud and people will listen.

Dan Reynolds, the frontman for Imagine Dragons, believes art should start conversations and create real change.

Reynolds was raised Mormon and still considers himself one, but there were some messages from the Church that didn’t sit right with him, like their mixed messages when it came to accepting LGBTQ folks.

“I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of the culture that comes with it, but I still identify as Mormon,” he says. “I like to think of myself more as a spiritual person,” Reynolds told Billboard.

Reynolds, who is a father of two, realized he wanted his children to look up to him as a rock’n’roll musician who stood for something more than sex and drugs. Reynolds struggles with depression so the statistic that LGBTQ youth are three times more likely to consider suicide hit him close to home. Several fans wrote him saying that they loved his music but they were disappointed he practiced a faith that didn’t view them as equals.

He started the Love Loud Foundation, its first action was the creation of a festival in Utah that raised funds for LGBTQ organizations helping at-risk youth and promoted dialogue between the LGBTQ community and the Mormon church.


Love Loud Fest attendee. Photo: Jay Drowns / UVU Marketing.
Love Loud Fest attendee. Photo: Jay Drowns / UVU Marketing.


The Mormon church endorsed the event in a public statement on their official site, stating, “We join our voice with all who come together to foster a community of inclusion in which no one is mistreated because of who they are or what they believe.”

These words have had real weight. Several LGBTQ Mormons attended the festival to perform and or speak, including 13-year-old Savannah who recently came out as lesbian during a Mormon sacrament meeting.


3-year-old Savannah who recently came out as lesbian
Savannah speaking at Love Loud. Photo: Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune


“They did not mess up when they gave me freckles or when they made me gay,” she said at the meeting. “God loves me just this way.”

Reynolds says the church’s response to these stories is showing positive, important progress.

“The whole part of LoveLoud was to say, this is inclusive for everyone. We’re not attacking an organization, we’re not attacking the Mormon Church. We just want to start a dialogue about something everyone can agree on, which is that these statistics need to change,” Reynolds told CBS News.

Love Loud Fest is slated for a 2018 return.



Q&A: Mer Young on Making Art to Respect Those Who Came Before Us

“Open your eyes to a world beyond your own" – Mer Young

Mer Young is a California-based artist of mixed descent who is best known for her colorful collages including folks of indigenous descent. Our conversation with her was spurred from a mutual desire to remember our past and use it as guidance for the future.

Young currently has some pieces on exhibition at Kaleidoscope Kollective in Echo Park, LA, and ChimMaya Gallery in East LA.

Do peep her Instagram and online store.


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Young in her element. Photo: Courtesy of Mer Young


New Sincerity: Tell me a little who you are and where you’re from?

Mer Young: I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend; I come from generations of fighters for change and makers. I come from the womb of my mother and walk amongst the earth with the guidance of my ancestors.

NS: Talk about your work as an artist – what or who inspires you? What messages are you trying to tell?

MY: I am only a vessel – the work I do is for the eyes and mind of and for people to interpret. Everything that is and was, the planet, the moon, the stars, soil, water, insects, animals, people, all inspire me. The message is to acknowledge and elevate those who have come before us.

NS: I notice a lot of your work involves indigenous, women, and children, combined with mixed media images of cosmic scapes and florals. These images are very haunting (in a good way). Can you speak to why you chose these themes, especially in how they work together?

MY: I centralize the image to pay homage, to bring about the importance and celebration of indigenous cultures, of women and women with children. The arrangements work together because these cosmic scapes and florals, as in nature, are already amongst us. I am just interpreting, what I experience, that is already in nature through my own lens. These elements bring about life and we need to remember our position as humans on this turning plant and respect it.

MY: Pick a favorite piece and give me a little backstory on it.

MY: Each piece is special, with a different story. To pick is like choosing a single flower in a flower field, but if I were to choose it would be the Wishham piece. The image is a replica, I found, by photographer Edward S. Curtis circa 1910 photo entitled Wishham Young Woman. I painted the background with gold acrylic paint to symbolize enlightenment and to mock the illumination of the sun, with light brings life. Aloe Vera has healing properties and is symbolic to enduring life, as does the cactus flowers. But the cactus flower also symbolizes warmth, protection, maternal love because of its endurance and ability to thrive in harsh conditions.

Mer Young artist

NS: Tell us about how you use your ancestors as guidance. And, how can our country be more mindful of our ancestors and the people who came before us?

MY: My ancestors as guidance: I listen, I abide, I learn, I counsel with, I take heed, I respect, and I call upon them. I believe, as a whole, that we need to teach our children of true past events, pass on understanding, and instruct them of how to be sensible and sensitive. It means to instill wisdom in them that has been bestowed upon us when we were young.

NS: When you’re not making art, what are you doing?

MY: Caring, loving, learning, sipping on earl gray tea and star gazing.

NS: What about the future excites you?

MY: The possibility of change for unity and peace.

NS: Advice on how to make social progress?

MY: Be selfless.

Rise Up

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