SALT LAKE CITY – Apple CEO Tim Cook is among those heading to Salt Lake City for a Saturday music festival organized by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds to support LGBT youth in the Mormon church.
The appearance of the proudly gay CEO will show young people their “unlimited potential,” Reynolds said in a statement. Other headliners include dancer and singer Julianne Hough, DJ Zedd, Tegan Quin of the band Tegan and Sara, Tyler Glenn from Neon Trees as well as Imagine Dragons.
Reynolds, who is Mormon, said the festival is a passion project born from watching friends struggle with their sexuality and feeling unwelcome in the faith.
“To see my community failing in this way is just not acceptable to me,” the Las Vegas native told the Associated Press last month. “When you’re given a platform at this level I feel a weight every day to do something with it.”
He also pointed to an alarming spike in suicide rates for Utah kids aged 10 to 17. While public-health investigators are still studying the trend’s cause, Reynolds said that making LGBT kids feel welcome in their homes and communities reduces any risk they might hurt themselves.
He also made the HBO documentary “Believer” aimed at showing the damaging effects of the faith’s opposition to same-sex relationships.
The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports his festival’s aim of preventing bullying and suicide, and has said there is a valued place for LGBT people in the church. Still, the faith also holds firm to doctrinal opposition of same-sex marriage and sexual intimacy.
Reynolds, who is heterosexual, has said the church still has a long way to go. This year, the festival is trying to raise $1 million to benefit groups that help at-risk gay, lesbian, bisexual transgender and queer kids.
Along with musicians, organizers are also drawing a range of performers and speakers, including Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, YouTube food critic and Ellen Show star Kalen Allen and Utah’s Lt. Governor, Spencer Cox.
The festival that starts Saturday afternoon at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City is aimed at reaching out LGBT kids who have grown up in any orthodox faith, he said.
“For me, the goal of LoveLoud is to reach these kids and tell them, ‘Hey, you are loved and accepted.’ Even if you’re not feeling at home or at church, or whatever, here’s a safe zone for you, at least for a day,” he said last month. “They can come out and feel celebrated and safe.”
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