Mormonism and Homophobia
The worldwide popularity of the band Imagine Dragons means that millions of people will soon become very aware of the homophobia that is part of the Mormon church and the high suicide rate of LGBTQ youth who practice Mormonism. thanks to this documentary shining a light on it. Homophobia in certain religions has been overlooked, and in news reports, is frequently concentrated squarely on Christianity and Islam without speaking about homophobia in other religions.
This documentary follows Dan Reynolds, the Imagine Dragons vocalist, who has come to a crossroads in regards to his Mormonism, and the religion’s treatment of LGBTQ individuals. With high suicide rates in Utah among young people likely attributed to this stance, Reynolds (along with openly gay singer Tyler Glenn, a former member of the church) creates the LoveLoud festival, in order to raise awareness of the issue, and hopefully “change hearts and minds in the process.”
We see the emotional torment placed upon those who have had to reconcile their sexuality with their religious beliefs, as well as those who have been excommunicated for simply expressing that being gay is not a sinful crime. But these moments make awkward bedfellows with a documentary that is predominantly aimed at Imagine Dragons fans. The message about sexuality is secondary to celebrations of the band’s success.
The band’s popularity is helping awareness on the issue (and is fundamental in getting this documentary made), but it too frequently becomes the focus, obscuring the emotionally hard-hitting interviews that should be consistently front and centre.
Although Reynolds is central to the documentary due to his star power, it’s hard not to wish that the documentary primarily focused on the festival’s co-founder Tyler Glenn. The former singer of Neon Trees, Glenn was excommunicated from the church following coming out as gay, and still struggles to grapple with his religious beliefs and sexuality and has even recorded an album about it, “Excommunicate” and it upset many in the Mormon community. He’s the emotional centre of the film, and the audience surrogate for LGBTQ viewers. The best moments are the ones where Tyler tearfully confesses about his inner conflicts.
“Believer” is a necessary and important documentary and we can hope that it continues to raise awareness of the cause, and all subsequent LoveLoud festivals will further combat prejudice and change minds in the Mormon community.