LoveLoud Festival promotes acceptance, love for Utahn LGBTQ youth

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LoveLoud Festival attendees wait for the show to start at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City. The LoveLoud Festival returned to the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City after a two year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Hailey Deeds)

The LoveLoud Festival returned this year for the first time since 2019; it took place at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City after a two year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 14 artists performed at the show including Willow, Neon Trees, Anitta, The Aces, Mat and Savanna Shaw, and Imagine Dragons lead vocalist Dan Reynolds.

Reynolds created the LoveLoud Foundation in 2017 to “bring communities and families together to help ignite the vital conversation about what it means to unconditionally love our LGBTQ+ youth.”

Reynolds described the time he performed with Neon Trees vocalist Tyler Glenn in Las Vegas. He almost turned down the offer to play with him because of the show being on Sunday. Reynolds said he felt he should play the show anyway, and on that night, Reynolds met his wife and witnessed Glenn being “heckled.”

“He was heckled by the audience. I saw it. Someone made fun of what he was wearing. I saw Tyler doing his thing, just singing, wanting to express his artistry,” Reynolds said. “And being mocked for what he chose to wear. I have never experienced this as a cisgender man.”

Reynolds said he saw tiredness in Glenn’s eyes from the constant heckling, but he did nothing. 

“I stood there. I watched him being heckled and I felt bad for him. What did that do? It did nothing,” Reynolds said. 

Reynolds said people ask him why he cares to do this work and he explained that as cisgender men they have to be a part of the puzzle. He decided he was going to do something to be a friend, which ended on Glenn and Reynolds coming up with LoveLoud. 

“I got to sit with him in those early, early days in a hotel room in L.A. spitballing, what the name would even be called. I remember when we decided on LoveLoud. It just felt right, it felt classic, it felt real,” Glenn said. “The most important part is that it encompassed everything we are doing here.”

During the LoveLoud Festival 2022, Glenn was wearing a multi-color leather jacket. He said he didn’t feel like he was being made fun of for wearing his jacket or his skinny jeans, but he mentioned he used to go on stage and be afraid of being called things or lead on. He also thanked everyone for being there and helping LoveLoud succeed. 

RaYnbow Collective, a community space for BYU’s LGBTQ students and allies, attended the event as a vendor in hopes to raise money for their “Back-to-School Pride Night” this coming September. People could purchase portraits, tote bags, pins and stickers. 

RaYnbow Collective founder Maddison Tenney said the best way for students to be an ally is to listen to experiences. Tenney gave the suggestion to use social media to find stories from the LGBTQ community. Tenney also said allies might not understand, but can start learning about people’s experiences because they simply want to love people.

“We all want to be loved. We all want to find love. We have heavenly parents who love all our kids. If we as Latter-day Saints or members of the BYU community really believe that, then that can be our stepping door,” Tenney said. 

BYU alumna Anna Wright was at the event with RaYnbow Collective to make portraits of attendees.

“The energy is wonderful. Everyone is having fun and going crazy a little bit because there is definitely more of a feeling of safety because you know that everyone who is here is excited about supporting the rainbow community,” said Wright, who has attended LoveLoud twice prior.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson attended the event in place of Gov. Spencer Cox, who tested positive for COVID-19. 

“We love you, we hear you, we see you, we care about you. You make Utah better,” she said.

Henderson alluded to the recent Utah Legislature’s passage in March of HB11, which bars transgender girls from competing in girls’ high school sport teams. Cox vetoed this bill. 

“Some of you may have heard some troubling conversations that have taken place on Utah’s Capitol Hill. Gov. Cox and I have been very concerned about how those conversations have impacted you,” Henderson said. “We want you to know that your worth is not derived by what people think about you or say about you. Your worth is certainly not determined in the halls of government. Your worth comes from within you.”

Reynolds said LoveLoud Festival will be back next year to continue being a safe space for the LGBTQ community and youth. 

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