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West Valley City Journal

LoveLoud Festival celebrates love and acceptance for LGBTQ+ community

Jul 29, 2019 04:49PM ● By Jennifer Gardiner

Dan Reynolds, lead singer for Imagine Dragons, founded the LoveLoud foundation in 2017. (Photo credit: Jerod Harris for Getty Images / LOVELOUD Festival Powered by AT&T)

By Jennifer Gardiner | [email protected] 

The LoveLoud Festival seems to get bigger every year, and this year’s event lived up to everyone’s expectations and left nothing up to the imagination.

Kesha was the headline of this year’s festival with other performers such as AJR, Tegan and Sara, Daya, K. Flay, Pvris, Laura Jane Grace and more. The all-day event was held at the Usana Amphitheatre in West Valley City on June 29. 

The concert, sponsored by AT&T, helped to raise money for LGBTQ+ charities around the nation. It also focused on the high suicide rates of LGBTQ+ youth.

Dan Reynolds told the crowd that the ideology that you are broken because you are LGBTQ+ is false, that we should not live in a society where you think you can tell your neighbor how they should live and who you should love. 

Matt Easton, Brigham Young University’s 2019 valedictorian who declared he was gay during the school’s graduation commencement, spoke to the crowd and said he wasn’t willing to accept being gay was the end to his future. He said he nearly lost several friends to suicide because they were afraid to admit they were gay. 

Gnash, an American singer, songwriter, rapper, DJ and record producer who was already in town to perform, said this concert means “all of the beautiful people can come together and we are all humans who deserve to be treated equally because we are all one in the same.” 

Charlie Bird, the man behind the mask of Cosmo the cougar, the mascot for Brigham Young University, also joined in on the festival. 

“I was behind a mask, but I was also masking my sexuality,” Bird said. “Now I am dancing in front of the same community and with the same dancers, only without the mask.”

Bird said it was liberating to come out, and since he has, he has received a great amount of support from all over Utah. 

“For the longest time I thought I was the only one like me, that’s a heavy burden to carry,” Bird said. “I hope by being visible, I can show others they are not alone, and there is hope.”

Steve Young and his wife Barbara Graham stopped by the concert to show their support for not just the LGBTQ+ community but to show others that love is the ultimate way to live. 

“This started with the idea that Dan had to bring the LDS community and the LGBTQ+ community together,” Young said. “The first festival in Orem was a culmination of that idea, and once you bring them together, you can walk with each other and the fundamentals of understanding each other and to me LoveLoud was born out of that idea.”

The LoveLoud Festival has been entertaining Utah for the past three summers. From performances by Imagine Dragons, Tyler Glenn, Mary Lambert, Parson James, Vagabon, along with dance numbers from Julianne Hough, “World of Dance” star Jaxon Willard, Alex Boyé, Troy Williams, Grace VanderWaal and Neon Trees.

The first LoveLoud Festival was held in 2017 at the Brent Brown Ballpark in Orem and drew over 16,000 people. The 2018 event, which was held at the Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, doubled that with over 35,000 attendees and raised over $1 million dollars for LGBTQ+ youth. 

The 2018 festival, however, was met with controversy from several transgender attendees who said they felt harassed over which bathrooms they could use causing several people representing LGBTQ+ nonprofits in Utah County to leave the concert. LoveLoud indicated they wanted to work with the organizations to make sure the 2019 festival included the use of nongender definitive portable toilets as a solution to ensure no one felt excluded. 

The LoveLoud Foundation was founded in 2017 by Dan Reynolds, the lead singer and only remaining original member of the band Imagine Dragons as a way to bring communities and families together and help ignite the conversation about what it means to unconditionally love LGBTQ+ youth. LoveLoud offers hope to young people, letting them know they’re not alone and encouraging acceptance in the home and community.