Dan Reynolds, the Las Vegas-born frontman of Imagine Dragons, has nothing but love for the LGBTQ community. You wouldn’t think twice about this were it not for the fact that the Grammy-winning rock star is Mormon and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he belongs to teaches its congregation that being gay is a sin. Over the past decade, Utah—with its large Mormon population—has seen an alarming spike in youth suicide, and many people attribute the statistic to LDS policies condemning same-sex relationships. Reynolds hopes that his new documentary, Believer, will shed light on the issue and inspire church leaders to make a change. The movie, which was produced by Live Nation Productions, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was screened at the KÀ Theatre at MGM Grand on March 8.
Director Don Argott was tasked with helping Reynolds share his feelings on camera. “I feel like he’s never been able to fully say what he really feels for some fear of backlash because his family is deeply religious,” Argott says. The low-key celebrity, along with his supportive wife and fellow musician Aja Volkman, has candid moments in the film as the couple interact with their infant twin girls and 5-year-old daughter, Arrow. The documentary also centers on Reynolds as he bonds with kids who identify as gay and their parents, showing the pain and suffering they go through. “We know that our LGBTQ youth are eight times more likely to take their life [when] not accepted in their home or community,” he says, and as a father, he can’t understand not “fully accepting” your child.
The bulk of the movie follows Reynolds as he decides to create the LoveLoud music festival in Orem, Utah, with the help of Neon Trees lead singer Tyler Glenn. Both artists have struggled with their faith over the years. On the red carpet during the premiere at MGM Grand, Reynolds spoke about growing up with friends who were gay and Mormon and seeing the “conflict” they had to deal with. “I served in the same mission as Tyler, who came out just recently after years of holding in his sexuality and the damage that did to him,” Reynolds says. “He’s now one of my dear friends.” Glenn is no longer a part of the church, but that didn’t stop him from committing to the cause. Reynolds pulled off the festival and accomplished his goal of getting the Mormon and LGBTQ communities together to talk.
After the credits rolled and tears dried at the KÀ Theatre, the VIP audience stood up and cheered for the Imagine Dragons singer as he and Argott went onstage for a Q&A. Reynolds received a lot of “thank you’s” from members of the crowd and was asked, “How can you help [Vegas] as well?” Reynolds said, “I live here currently and I will die here. This is my city. That being said, I am so down to get involved … to do LoveLoud here.”
Believer airs on HBO in June.