Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Filmmaker Says His LGBT Documentary Is Aimed At 'Conflicted' Mormons

Sundance Institute
Dan Reynolds, lead singer of Imagine Dragons, is the central figure of "Believer."

A documentary making noise at the Sundance Film Festival this year is called "Believer," a look into the plight of LGBT Mormons in light of a recent uptick in suicide among Utah teenagers. While the topic is controversial, the film isn’t meant to be an angry critique as much as a plea from one practicing Mormon to another.

The practicing Mormon making that plea is none other than Dan Reynolds, the frontman of Imagine Dragons. A world famous rock band that got its start in Provo, Utah.

Reynolds, who was raised Mormon, says his faith remains a central factor in his life, and his aim with this new documentary isn’t to cast blame but rather start a discussion.

“Mormons are conflicted about this," Reynolds said speaking to RadioWest. "They want equality for all. They believe in equality and justice but the Mormon leaders are saying, ‘This is a sin.' They’re so conflicted because they’re also loyal to their faith.”

Reynolds says those conflicted Mormons are his audience. He had them in mind when he organized the LOVELOUDLGBT benefit concert in Utah county last summer. His message is that it’s not enough to say, “We love gay Mormons.”

“That’s good," Reynolds said. "But it’s actually a little bit more dangerous... because when you open this door and you say, ‘There’s a place for you and it’s shiny inside,’ these gay kids say, ‘You know maybe there is a place for me,’ and they walk in and there are still thumbtacks on the floor.”

Reynold’s plea to fellow Mormons is to make the community genuinely safer for LGBT kids. A safe place to come out, a safe place to express themselves and a spiritual home they don’t have to leave. Reynolds says he’s not naive, he doesn’t expect this to get fixed overnight, but he also believes the Mormon community is ready for a film like his and primed for change.

Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.