When the founder of Utah’s LoveLoud music festival stepped onto center stage at the Billboard Music Awards on Wednesday, he took the opportunity to advocate for the LGBTQ community and against conversion therapy.
“I just want to take this moment to say that there are still 34 states that have no laws banning conversion therapy — 34!” said Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds, whose band received the award for best rock artists. “And on top of that, 58 percent of our LGBTQ population live in those states.
“This can change, but it’s going to take all of us talking to our state [legislators], pushing forward laws to protect our LGBTQ youth.”
He concluded by saying that conversion therapy has led to “double the rate of depression [and] triple the rate of suicide after conversion therapy” for LGBTQ youth. "It’s not working. Needs to change.”
A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who served a mission and attended Brigham Young University, Reynolds has been outspoken in his opposition to conversion therapy, a widely discredited practice that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. In 2017, he launched the first Loveloud festival to raise awareness, support and money for at-risk lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths.
The Utah Legislature this year considered a bill to ban licensed therapists from trying to alter the gender identity or sexual orientation of minors. The bill ultimately failed to pass after conservative lawmakers watered it down with changes that were harshly criticized by LGBTQ advocates.
Reynolds will be joined by pop star Kesha, Dutch DJ Martin Garrix, indie-pop duo Tegan & Sara, singer-songwriter Daya, alt-rock band Grouplove and singer-rapper K.Flay at the third LoveLoud Festival on Saturday, June 19, at the Usana Amphitheatre in West Valley City.
Correction: 7:37 p.m. An earlier version of this story had incorrect information on the status of a conversion therapy bill. The article has been updated to reflect that the Legislature considered, but did not pass the bill.