Dan Reynolds on being a Mormon & an LGBTQ ally: ‘I’m a very unique Mormon’

'Believer' at KA Theatre in the MGM Grand - Screening - Arrivals

I listen to Imagine Dragons sometimes, does that make me uncool? Some of the songs are great for workouts – good drumbeats, lyrics about surviving and withstanding and fighting, and lead singer Dan Reynolds has a good rock voice. I’m not saying Imagine Dragons is the tightest sh-t ever, but they’re a solid pop-rock band for this era of music. I knew that Dan was/is a Mormon and I always halfway wondered about how he kept the faith while living the rocker lifestyle. Turns out, some days he doesn’t even consider himself a Mormon. I’ve heard his interviews over the past few years, where he’s been critical of the Church of Latter-Day Saints because of their stance on LGBTQ issues. Dan himself is married to a woman and expecting his fourth child, but he’s become something of a “Mormons should 100% embrace the LGBTQ community” advocate. He’s done a lot of work as an ally too, helping to raise money for GLAAD and the Trevor Project and other LGBTQ organizations. Anyway, Dan has an interview in People Mag and he talks about his faith and his work as an ally. Some highlights:

He considers himself a spiritual man: “I’m a very unique Mormon. I hate that people have to be pigeon­holed. Some days I don’t believe in anything — some days I’m probably more atheist than your atheist friend. And some days I want to pray to God. Faith has always been a really difficult thing for me. I’ve always been kind of a skeptical human being. I was quite rebellious in my teenage years and had a hard time believing in something that I could not see.”

Don’t make assumptions about him because he’s Mormon: “A lot of times, people are raised in something that they had no say in. There are many people who are raised in extremely religious homes that had no say in the matter: That’s just their culture that they were born into. So to judge people based off that is a very dangerous thing. I think people need more room to just be unique but also be a part of a culture if it feels good for them, but also have their own beliefs within it. I just hate generalizing.”

Becoming an outspoken LGBTQ ally: “I have family and friends I grew up with who are LGBTQ and Mormon or religious. I watched their constant struggle. They were told to change something about them that is unchangeable.”

On his wife, Aja Volkman: “My wife is a fierce activist; she will not rest until there is equality for all. When I met her she was living with her two best friends who were both queer. She is so fiercely active and passionate about equal rights, and that just fired me up.”

Hosting his third LoveLoud Festival Powered by AT&T in Utah, which raises money for LGBTQ groups: “There are a lot of people from conservative households that have been looking for an opportunity to say, ‘I believe in equal rights.’ It really has given me more faith in just humanity as a whole. It’s been really enlightening to see people come together from all different sides, religious and non, and meeting together at LoveLoud and celebrating our LGBTQ youth and saying, ‘You know what? Put aside all the past and the differences. We all need to unite.’”

[From People]

I can’t help but compare Dan’s work and activism to Taylor Swift’s. Not only the quality of the work but the reaction to it. Of course I think Dan receives a lot of praise because we’re not used to a cisgendered straight white dude going out of his way to be an ally. Of course I think we nitpick Taylor Swift more because she’s a woman. That being said, the Snake Fam acts like Taylor is THE FIRST pop music person to ever be an ally, and here’s Dan putting on his THIRD music festival to benefit LGBTQ groups, and he’s doing it all even though he risks excommunication from his community, from his church, from his faith.

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19 Responses to “Dan Reynolds on being a Mormon & an LGBTQ ally: ‘I’m a very unique Mormon’”

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  1. duchess of hazard says:

    He seems like a good dude. I think I heard his music in the trailer on the latest Mission Impossible flick.

  2. Carli says:

    I’m a mormon. It’s a weird time for Mormonism right now. Lots of young people are leaving because of LGBTQ issues as well as woman’s issues. I appreciate Dan speaking out and going against the grain but a lot of people that have done similar have gotten excommunicated from the church. I would be surprised if he sticks with it. Too much cognitive dissonance to stay associated with an organization that has a shady past + several core issues you completely disagree with the church on. Best of luck to him, I’m fully behind what he’s doing.

    • broodytrudy says:

      Yes! The fleeing from the church is occurring in huge numbers and that’s not a coincidence or a weird satan influence. Women and people in the LGBTQ community in the Church want to be treated with respect and dignity. That hasn’t been happening and it seems like Oaks has A LOT of influence in that. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. We keep hoping our SILs will open their eyes and get out (we’ve been out more than 10 years), but it’s not happening. MIL is trying to indoctrinate my kid and it’s causing a ton of tension with us all.

  3. broodytrudy says:

    Ex-mo living in the morridor here with family deep in the church, Dan Reynolds can fork right off. The LDS Church is a cult, particularly in Utah, full stop. They use cult methods to gain and retain members, and use fear and intimidation tactics. They protect serial sexual abusers. They encourage conversion therapy. They essentially run the government here. They’re racist, homophobic, and sexist. They encourage poor families to pay tithing and “give til it hurts” instead of using that extra money to feed their families. They allow 12 year old girls to be asked explicit sexual questions by their 40+ year old bishops. This is not even a quarter of the horrible things they do.

    If you don’t want to be judged, don’t be affiliated with a bogus organization, bud.

  4. Kate says:

    “That being said, the Snake Fam acts like Taylor is THE FIRST pop music person to ever be an ally, and here’s Dan putting on his THIRD music festival to benefit LGBTQ groups, and he’s doing it all even though he risks excommunication from his community, from his church, from his faith.”

    This seemed like a really unnecessary sentence to add at the end of this piece.

    • Laura says:

      I disagree. I appreciate how it sums up the lead singer of a popular band’s activism and how important it is to him even though it could make him lose familial relationships as it compares to another popular musician’s current activism.

      There are real life consequences for standing up to patriarchal systems, especially religious ones, more so than losing fans and no bing as popular.

      • Deehunny says:

        I think Kate’s point is that it isn’t a race and that both can be allies instead of comparing the 2

  5. swedish chef says:

    He would be more genuine if he were actually a practicing mormon and advocating instead of saying he’s a mormon and in the same breath talking about unmormon he is. When was the last time he actually stepped into a church and participated in any practices? He USED to be a mormon. Now he’s not. He brings his own point of view and experiences but shouldn’t be used as an example of being a mormon.

    • Carli says:

      Your comment is basically everything wrong with Mormon culture. He doesn’t fit a mold so you invalidate the good he’s doing. So stupid.

    • MissAmerica says:

      Religion is cultural just as much as it is spiritual practice.

  6. Starkiller says:

    “A lot of times, people are raised in something they had no say in” MORE PEOPLE, the WORLD OVER, need to take heed of this.

  7. Cher says:

    I applaud his activism, but I’m not keen on his continuing support of the Mormon church by being a member. It comes off as hypocrisy. I feel the same way about my mom, who is a lifelong Catholic, but also a feminist, pro-choice support of LGBTQ rights. You can’t say you support those values and then tithe to a church that actively works against them. Those churches aren’t going to change from within; bigotry is their strongest suit. People need to LEAVE. Only the threat of becoming utterly obsolete will convince them to change their ways.

    • Carli says:

      Mormons believe that their prophet is in communication with God. The church has evolved and changed because of this core principle. A lot of us stay in the church because of the belief that not only is change possible, it is most effectively brought about from within. Leaving isn’t as simple and clear cut as it sounds. A big part of his objective is increasing awareness and carving out a place for LGBTQ within the Mormon community because of the high numbers of suicide in LGBTQ kids. The stuff he’s doing is huge. The conversation calling him a hypocrite is taking away from the good he’s doing and invalidating a really important cause.

      • Anners says:

        As another member of the Church of Jesus Christ, I’ve got to say that I don’t think the Utah experience is reflective of the church as a whole. I think there’s an issue there differentiating between gospel doctrine and established culture/habits. Where I live (Toronto) there’s a lot more positive support of LGBTQ people. I’m not saying there’s not room to grow, but like Carli says, changes are coming about, slowly but surely.

        While no earthly religious organization is perfect (they’re run by people after all), I love the inclusive teachings of Jesus, who said people should first love God, then their neighbours.

  8. SM says:

    Isn’t the frontman of the Killers also Mormon? Which is fascinating how rock stars actually combine those things. Not sure about either of their rock star lifestyle (which in current age may involve more yoga and veganism anyway than drugs and sex, which is basically to say the current age is so much different from the age of Stones, Bowie and Queen) but a lot of the Killers lyrics could be problematic for a practicing mormon. Their last song and video directed by Spike Lee the Land of the Free is a direct slap on current Administration’s face. So in a way, I rely don’t mind what these guys do in their private life and what they chose to believe, I am happy that anyone with a platform is using it for a good cause and in this case it is good that he identifies as Mormon and yet he stands by LGBTQ rights. Maybe, just maybe the dogmas of closed religious communities may be changed in time fro within. It may be easier or right to leave, but then it won’t have an impact someone from within challenging their dogmas can have.

  9. Borg Queen says:

    Mr Borg is a lapse Mormon and his biggest gripe is the anti-gay and racist practices of the church. His church was located in Lincoln Center in NYC and the church transferred all the latinx and black members to an uptown location. I heard Dan Reynolds interview with Howard Stern and talked about how he was sent on a missionary mission to poor communities and it really opened his eyes about other people cultures and lifestyles. There is good and bad in every religion but at least Dan Reynolds is trying to change.