So this post might seem a little fan girlish at first, but I’ll ask you to stick with me because I truly feel it’s more than that.
About a year ago I went to my first Imagine Dragons concert. I’d heard their songs, because I live in a first world country and occasionally turn on the radio. I liked them, but I wasn’t a “fan” per se. This concert was just something I had booked to take my sister, who is developmentally delayed and absolutely loves music, out to as something she would really enjoy.
It’s important to place this against the background of the fact that just a few months earlier I had experienced a complete mental health crash & burn / suicide attempt / hospitalization. First time in my life. I was still recovering from being confused and ashamed and frustrated and terrified. And when I listened to Dan Reynolds speak during the concert about his own mental health issues, encouraging and supporting and validating others like himself who struggle with these things, I was smitten. Going to that concert made me love their music, but it made me love him and their band even more. I’ve seen them again since then, and my feelings remained the same. They have been my playlist of choice ever since. I thought it couldn’t get any better than that, but it did.
Recently a friend suggested that we watch the HBO documentary “Believer.” And we were intrigued so we did. Let me just put this out there for you — you should totally watch it, and you should totally have a bucket of Kleenex sitting next to you. Everything I felt before about Dan Reynolds, all of my respect, and gratefulness…. those things paled in comparison to what I learned and discovered and feel now that I have watched that.
I vaguely knew that he is a Mormon, and grew up in Utah in a very conservative Mormon community. But what I didn’t know is that he stepped back at some point and realized that the suicide rate for Mormon LGBTQ youth was astronomially high because of the stance of the church on shunning and excommunicating them, on everyone rejecting them and disowning them for being what they were, for being who they were. And while he has Faith, while he maintains his Faith, he didn’t think that was right or made any kind of sense. And at the risk of being rejected by his community, by the church that he loves and he believes in, he chose to speak out. And not just speak out but to put his money where his mouth is and try to advocate for real change.
And I guess I wonder if people understand how monumental that is. Celebrities and other famous people get a lot of flak for speaking out and for people feeling like it’s either a publicity stunt, or a ‘why should we care what this person thinks just because they act or sing or are famous in some way.”
But he risked everything.
Family, Friends, community, his god. That’s not something you do because you want to be famous, or you want people to think you’re a ‘good guy.’ He risked everything to try and help a community of people that he saw being unfairly, unjustly disadvantaged to the point of death. Sitting with my gender fluid husband and watching that, knowing that wasn’t our world but was still the world we lived in, spoke to me in a more profound way than anything else could have.
So you’ll have to forgive me if I can’t help but think he is one of the most awesome young people in our modern world. Will I go see their concerts? Will I listen to their albums (the newest of which clearly focuses almost entirely upon this concept of otherness & ostracizationand & fear & damage & even death)? Will I support him and them in the things that they do? The answer to all of these is absolutely, positively, without a second of hesitation, YES.