'We are one step closer’: Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds, founder of LoveLoud Festival, praises LDS Church’s change in LGBTQ policy

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dan Reynolds jumps into the crowd as he performs with Image Dragons at the LoveLoud Festival at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Saturday, July 28, 2018.

The founder of Utah’s LoveLoud music festival for LGBTQ youths, Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds, tweeted a cautiously positive response to the news that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is changing its policy toward same-sex couples and their children.

Reynolds tweeted this response Thursday: “progress doesn’t happen overnight. it happens in small steps. today we are one step closer.”

In a Thursday announcement, church leaders said children of LGBTQ parents may be blessed as babies — a tradition within the faith — and baptized without the need for approval from the faith’s governing First Presidency. Latter-day Saints in a same-gender marriage would also cease to be subject to an automatic disciplinary proceedings.

Reynolds, who is a Latter-day Saint, launched LoveLoud in 2017 to raise awareness of suicide among teens — often connected to their churches’ and families’ reactions to their LGBTQ identity.

The third annual LoveLoud is scheduled for June 29 at Usana Amphitheatre in West Valley City, with pop star Kesha, DJ Martin Garrix and Reynolds among the headliners. The event falls on the 50th anniversary of the riots at New York’s Stonewall Inn, a gay bar that became a landmark of the LGBTQ rights movement.

In a prepared statement, LoveLoud said it has from the beginning been “committed to working with the LDS Church and community, fostering constructive dialogue and discussion, and strengthening the ties of love that bind us together as families, friends and neighbors."

“This week’s news from the Church represents a small step in the right direction, but there is still much work to be done," the statement continues. "We recommit ourselves to that work and to our LGBTQ+ youth, who deserve communities that fully accept, support and celebrate them.”

Reynolds wasn’t the only artist with connections to the church who reacted to Thursday’s announcement.

Playwright Matthew Greene, whose recent one-man play “Good Standing” imagined a Latter-day Saint “court of love” considering whether to excommunicate a man for marrying his boyfriend, said the policy change “represents a step toward compassion, reconciliation and understanding.”

Greene added in an email Thursday, however, that the policy shift is "just a step and I hope there’s more positive change to come.”

( Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune ) Left to right: Actor Austin Archer and playwright Matthew Greene discuss Greene's one-man play "Good Standing," about a Latter-day Saint man who marries another man and then faces excommunication. The play was produced in fall 2018 by Plan B Theatre.

The church’s previous policy, he said, “caused a lot of pain, a lot of division, and if church leadership is committed to ameliorating that, I applaud them for it. Again, it’s one step in a long journey, but I’m happy to see what looks like positive change in the lives of so many people I love.”

Rock star Tyler Glenn, of the band Neon Trees, posted on Twitter that “THIS very policy personally sent me and my family on a complete life course shift.” Glenn came out as gay in an April 2014 Rolling Stone interview, and resigned his membership in the church after the 2015 policy announcement.

“Don’t forget the lives that were lost to suicide. the pain this policy caused in so many families,” Glenn posted. “This ‘correction’ has nothing to do w/ actual LGBT and everything to do with baptism numbers.”

The world premiere of “Good Standing” was produced last fall by Salt Lake City’s Plan-B Theatre. That company’s artistic director, Jerry Rapier, was more frank about the policy change Thursday.

“The Mormon church’s interest in and opinion of the composition of my family," Rapier said, “is unsolicited and holds zero meaning.”