LoveLoud, Dan Reynolds place emphasis on stopping LGBTQ suicides

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Skyleigh Urrutia, Nick Astalos, Allison Doten and Elena Ring sing along with Dāya, at the LoveLoud Festival at the USANA Amphitheater, Saturday, June 29, 2019.

West Valley City • At 3:20 p.m. Saturday, with the sun shining on the blue chairs and green grass at Usana Amphitheatre, Dan Reynolds went on stage to welcome the early arrivals to the festival he founded.

LoveLoud attracts more than music lovers. It’s a way to raise money for charities benefiting LGBTQ communities. And in his welcome, Reynolds narrowed the focus further to the high rates of suicide among LGBTQ youths.

“It’s not because our LGBTQ youth are broken,” Reynolds said.

“It has to do,” he explained a moment later, “with man-made precepts that are just false — that you can tell your neighbor how to live and who to love.”

Speakers who came on stage between musical acts made mention of suicide prevention, too. Matt Easton, who in April used his valedictorian speech at Brigham Young University — which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — to discuss his being gay, on Saturday said he saw gay friends who pondered suicide.

“I saw this,” Easton told the crowd, “and I thought, ‘Is this my future as well? Is this all that I have in front of me?’

“Well, I am here to tell you today — this is not true. Our futures are limitless. Our futures are all for the taking.”

Democrat Pete Buttigieg, who is seeking to become the first openly gay presidential nominee from a major political party, also addressed the crowd in a recorded statement.

LGBTQ organizations had tents on the plaza, including Mama Dragons, a support group for mothers of LGBTQ children that has received attention for trying to prevent suicides.

Viviana Benavides, 23, of West Jordan, attended her first LoveLoud on Saturday. In front of the main stage, she called herself an LGBTQ supporter.

Benavides said suicide prevention can be a difficult subject to discuss. The community needs to be told, she said, that more LGBTQ people are being open with who they are.

“We have to keep fighting for what we believe in,” Benavides said, “which is equality.”

After watching the documentary “Believer” about Reynolds’ support for the LGBTQ community, friends Shannon Doxtater and Savanna Mercer got tattoos on their arms with the movie’s name. They drove 24 hours to the festival from their homes in Plainwell, Mich.

“It’s more about the cause than who the headliners are,” Doxtater said.

As the band K. Flay came on stage, Mercer discussed a gay cousin. He has had thoughts of suicide, Mercer said, and once told her she is the reason he doesn’t kill himself.

“It really hit a hold of me,” Mercer said.

A few minutes later, Reynolds jumped on stage to dance to the band K. Flay. Reynolds was scheduled to close the show later Saturday.

LoveLoud is in its third year at its third Utah location. Brent Brown Ballpark in Orem was the 2017 site. Last year, the festival played at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

There were complaints from some groups about the lack of gender-inclusive bathrooms at Rice-Eccles. The problem was solved at Usana with rows of portable toilets that carried no designations for any gender.

There were no alcohol sales. Some concertgoers brought children to sit with them on blankets in the general admission areas.

Editor’s note • If you or people you know are at risk of self-harm, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24-hour support at 1-800-273-8255.