Gearing up for LoveLoud: a review of “Believer” documentary

Related imageRecently, a new HBO documentary titled “Believer” was released which follows the making of the LoveLoud Festival, and sadly, points blame at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its doctrine on marriage and chastity for the depression, anxiety and suicides of LGBT-identified people. While the documentary itself was well received by fans, many faithful members of the Church are not aware of what it actually discusses and teaches. The aim of this post is to provide more information and important context.

The documentary includes at least three recurring themes: 1) blame the Church for LGBT-identified people’s suicides; 2) change the Church from within because the Church needs to change, and will change, if enough social pressure is placed from within its own members; and 3) for the production company to promote the band and its concerts.

In an unprecedented move, the production company, Live Nations Productions (a concert promotion company with the aim of concert ticket sales), strayed from its usual format of featuring stories about musicians and fame and, instead, pursued a documentary to make a link between the Church and its doctrine to the suicides and depression of LGBT-identified people. From beginning to end, the director, Don Argott, makes this intent abundantly clear. In an interview on the HBO website, he discusses suicide and states that “there is an obvious connection between that and the Mormon faith.”

The approach used in this film is not innocent. It’s focused and ideological, leaving no room or respect for those desiring fidelity to covenants, doctrine or chastity. And, sadly, the message is that the Church is wrong on these points and must change.

And yet, the Church has been gracious and shown kindness and love. In a place no longer predominantly LDS, Salt Lake is consistently listed as one of the top “gay friendly” cities in the United States (see here, here and here). There is an openly gay mayor with many openly gay staff. There is a large gay population of LGBT activists. Even a street has been renamed after a prominent gay activist. Many would say that there have been vast accommodations for the LGBT community in the city where the LDS Church is headquartered. The Church has made donations to help homeless and at-risk youth who identify as LGBT and to another LGBT group for suicide prevention training (a few examples are here and here but many more statements can be found on www.newsroom.lds.org), gave support for housing accommodations and protections, and a revamped Mormon and Gay website to help its leaders and members. These are only a few examples to illustrate how the Church has reached out with kindness and Christlike love, not to mention the countless personal ministering happening behind the scenes by the prophet, apostles and general authorities. The LDS Church has shown that it is very possible for Mormons and LGBT-identified people to co-exist without contention. 

Still, the film spends a large portion of its 1 hour 42 minutes featuring footage of the Church Office Building, the Salt Lake Temple, the Provo Temple, narration about suicide rates, negative news clips about the Church (including protests surrounding Prop 8), all interspersed with clips of the prophet and apostles speaking out against homosexual activity and same-sex marriage.

Of this documentary, one thoughtful individual rightly stated, “There is nothing that went without consideration in this presentation to forward a narrative. This was not entertainment, but a re-education—propaganda—that shows a reverse hatred for a perceived enemy.”

About that claim of suicides

For a rebuttal about these misleading claims against the Church, this post is a critical one to read: “About that claim of suicides by LDS teens with same-sex attraction”. The author rightly says, “The people who are trumpeting the claims are well-established critics of the Church. …The people involved have an ax to grind and are using this report to encourage opposition to the Church. And the Church’s critics are ignoring the simple reality that suicides cannot honestly be attributed to a single event. There are a lot of other factors going on in the world (detailed above) that should be considered when discussing suicide.”

About the Church’s 2017 statement regarding LoveLoud

The Church made a statement in 2017 lending support to the aim of community efforts to prevent suicide and to show LGBT-identified youth that they are loved and valued. And to this extent, the Church supported the aim of those efforts. However, to the extent that the LoveLoud festival is used as a pretext to celebrate and normalize LGBT lifestyles, we can be quite certain that the Church does not support those endeavors. Church leaders have been clear: loving LGBT-identified youth does not mean that we must pare back on essential doctrines, or affirm lifestyle choices that lead us away from God.

And so, the 2017 statement was technically a list of implicit clarifications and affirmations of the Church’s long-held beliefs regarding the issue. But those nuances have been lost on many, and there is a high risk of it being misunderstood.

Key quotes transcribed from the film

Below are a few quotes transcribed directly from the film for those who want just a quick read. For those who want to delve in deeper, further down there are more quotes and scene descriptions, in sequence with the film. Again, these are transcribed directly from the documentary.

About the film: Director, Don Argott; Executive Producer, Dan Reynolds (lead singer of Imagine Dragons) and several others (listed here), music by Hans Zimmer.

Dan Reynolds (Lead singer, Imagine Dragons, raised Mormon),
John Dehlin (former member of the Church, excommunicated in 2015 for apostasy, actively speaks out against/is openly hostile to the Church). For background, please read “Mormon Stories founder Dehlin’s spread of ‘false concepts’ results in excommunication from LDS Church”.
Aja Volkman (former wife of Dan Reynolds)
Tyler Glenn (former member of the Church, excommunicated himself in 2016)

Dan: “I still feel guilt that I was just, like, a silent person, you know. … If I’m passive, if I just stand back and say I don’t want to talk about Mormonism, then I’m standing then for bigotry.” Mormons and our doctrine do not equal bigotry; this is a false premise that LGBT activists use. 

Dan: “How do we not offend 50% percent of the people that come?”
Aja: “You’re just trying to enlighten people”
Dan: “What you said right there, enlighten people? That tells people, “You’re in the dark let me enlighten you!”
Aja: “No, no, educate.”
Dan: “You’re stupid, let me educate you.”
Aja: “No not true, I think people don’t know the statistics, the realities.” (See note above, these types of comments are based on misleading stats.)
Dan: “You can’t come in and say you’re wrong, but maybe say, let’s talk.”
Aja: “You have to change people’s minds as an ally.”

Tyler Glenn: “I got home from my mission and then I decided to be gay for a little bit, and that started the conflict. I came out to my producer … and he, like, said, “I’m so happy for you!” and it was the first time that I ever attributed positivity ever to being gay. … I was expecting my life to feel sinful or shame and it wasn’t like that at all and it was so much inclusion.” This decision to “be gay for a little bit” is interesting. And, engaging in homosexual activity will, indeed, create a conflict for an LDS returned missionary and temple covenants.

Tyler Glenn: “I started dating a guy openly and I took him to Temple Square, and for me it was like, “When you and I have a kid we’re raising him Mormon” and a month after that it was Nov. 5 and a policy was leaked. I had just taken the guy I was seeing to the temple and I was just doing these things to sort of remain, and it hit me that I have to leave.” This shows the confusion about the doctrine and the hope for temple sealings to be changed to include homosexual couples.

John Dehlin: “The predominant religion within the state of Utah declare[d] war on LGBT people.” This is false. It is intended to rile people up. As mentioned above, the Church has supported many measures to ensure the LGBT population is treated with civility and fairness.

John Dehlin: “I was noticing all these LGBT Mormons who were depressed, suicidal, and the church was encouraging mixed orientation marriages (pans to Mormon and Gay website video clip) where you’re gay but you marry a straight person … they’re encouraging celibacy, so we decided to study what decisions led to healthy outcomes for LGBT people and what decisions led to unhealthy outcomes.” The Church doctrine is that of complete chastity; the only types of sexual relationships God designed were to only be between a man and a woman. Chastity does not equal suicide.

“What happens if you try and be celibate? What happens if you marry a woman? Mixed orientation marriages were a disaster, celibacy was the worst possible option that they could have chosen.” (Dan nods head in agreement). Again, the attack on chastity. Celibacy is not the worst possible option that God has for all of His children. It’s the best path that leads to true happiness on earth and in the eternities. Breaking the law of chastity breaks covenants and brings a withdrawal of the Holy Ghost. Chastity and the need for and using the Savior’s Atonement are the best way to live. 

LGBT activist, in response as to how to change Mormons into activists: “If I can get Mormon moms off their temple shift to fall in love with someone [popular], then it’s game over.” This shows there is indeed an agenda and gives a glimpse into how activists are working to turn people. (See Alma Chapter 2 for a scriptural account of this type of “intent”).

John Dehlin: “Mormon leaders claim to talk to God, so when the church makes statements in the 80’s or 90’s or 2000’s that to be gay is evil and to be in a same-sex marriage or relationship is evil, they’re not just saying that as their own opinion, they’re basically saying that God speaks to the leader of the church and takes that position.”  Here is a common tactic used to make people feel ashamed for believing in the doctrine and standards. This is a jab at members of the Church who believe in God’s prophets and apostles. Another common tactic used here is to intentionally speak ambiguously about “being gay.” Many times activists who try to make the Church look bad purposefully don’t clarify that the Church actually doesn’t believe it’s a sin to have feelings of same-sex attraction. The Church does not believe these feelings are a sin, but the Church believes acting on those feelings is. If you think about it, the Church’s message is the more hopeful one. It says, “If you experience gay feelings, you still (and always will) have total control as to what you do with those feelings.” That is a message of empowerment. Not the LGBT activists’ message that says, “If you experience gay feelings, then you must follow through with gay actions since we can’t control those sexual urges.” That message is one of self-victimization and powerlessness.

Dan: “People say, “You can’t go and pound on the Brethren’s door and say, “Thomas S. Monson, change this, man! C’mon, change it! He’s not going to change it for you, he’s doing what God tells him.” But, if all the members of the church are talking about something then the prophet is going to pray about it, right? I think this is one more part of the puzzle that’s coming together and hopefully the apostles and the prophet go pray about it more and God comes down and tells them what’s up.” This is a serious statement which involves a member rallying countless other members to get the prophet to ask God to change doctrine and standards of chastity. The Ordain Women founder made almost identical statements and gathered supporters on a much smaller scale and was excommunicated for apostasy in 2015. (See: Ordain Women founder’s recruitment efforts result in excommunication from LDS Church.) The doctrine of the plan of salvation and the order of heaven is not changing, and members should not use a large microphone to rally others to support activist causes within the Church. This is representing the people to the prophet.

Interview with gay man in audience:  “15 yrs ago I was a student at BYU and I was coming out and I was suicidal and I’m here and I got a hug from a 13 yr old who said that God loves her because He made her gay. It took me until I was 30, I don’t have to try to be better! God made me exactly as I am. I am the best that I can be! I am exactly what He said, “I made you.” It’s been the most amazing thing. I feel like I’m in a dream right now!”  This is the common thinking among LGBT activists. This quote speaks to the false doctrine that there is no need for change and no need to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ  for same-sex attraction or behavior because “there is nothing that needs to be fixed”. It speaks of this identity as a core component of one’s divine nature (which is incorrect). This comes from the misguided belief that it is inborn and divinely created (which are not doctrinally correct). This misunderstanding is extremely harmful, since it can also be used to try to show that any other sinful desires are sanctioned of God. Ultimately, this shows a deep doctrinal misunderstanding of the Fall and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

John Dehlin: “It feels like Mormon Woodstock! It’s amazing. It’s historic. We fought so hard for so long and finally we’re able to do something significant. We’ve reached critical mass!” This shows how activism is being fought within the Church. They hoped for critical mass to try to tip LDS opinion scales and put enough pressure on the prophet and apostles to change policies, doctrine and standards.

Mama Dragons LGBT activist group: “The church endorsed this, right? So that’s good. But now, we want them to put their money where their mouth is. If they’re going to say we love all of our LGBT people, then let’s get rid of that policy and let’s bring them into full fellowship. I mean, for me personally, nothing less will do! Because you can say I love you all you want but until you act on that in a way that feels inclusive and complete, then it’s a no go.” For many LGBT activists within the Church, this comment of “nothing less will do!” parts the curtain as to their end goal: full acceptance of same-sex marriage within the Church and no disciplinary action for homosexual relationships. 

Dan: “I have these tools and hey, if I want to put on a festival, we’re going to get this press and interviews because of Imagine Dragons. We’re hopefully going to get a ton of press coverage and get people to understand that telling your child that it’s sinful to be gay can be so destructive.” Again, here is the intentional, ambiguous use of “being gay”. The Church does not believe these feelings are a sin, but the Church believes acting on those feelings is.

Dan: Speaking about President Dallin H. Oaks’ General Conference talk on the Family Proclamation: “The church just basically doubled down on everything they’ve been pounding into my head and Mormons’ heads for years which is: to be gay and act upon it is a sin. Marriage is between a man and a woman, and that popular culture and popular people will try to tell you otherwise.” Acting on homosexuality is indeed a sin and prophets of God and God Himself declares it to be so. No amount of criticism of the Family Proclamation or the doctrine or law of chastity will change this, but it is obvious these are the absolute sticking points for people who believe otherwise. Yet again, here is the ambiguous, intentional use of “being gay”. The Church does not believe these feelings are a sin, but the Church believes acting on those feelings is.

End caption: Dan is organizing the next LoveLoud Festival. It will be held annually in Utah until it is no longer necessary.”  

This begs the question, if Salt Lake is already a top gay-friendly city, what does “no longer necessary” look like? They never answer that question because it is counter-productive to their narrative. But this is clearly not about “not being picked on”, this is a clear attack on a religious institution that publicly supported the aim of their first concert.

And so, the question remains: “What exactly—what changes in the Church—do they require for this festival to be considered “no longer necessary”? 

*******************************

 

More detailed quotes from the film, in order of appearance:

  • Immediately, it is obvious that the director and producers intend to make a clear statement that this film links the church to the suicides of people who identify as LGBT. The film spends a lot of time hovering directly over the Church Office Building and the Salt Lake Temple while the narration talks about suicide rates in Utah.

Film has the voice of Elder David A. Bednar “It is when we act on the inclination or the attraction …” fades out to an audio clip of a radio talk show host mocking what the Church believes about chastity and homosexual activity.

Dan Reynolds: “The community I was raised with is Mormon and I was always taught that if you want to make a difference, you start with your community.

Film shows negative Prop 8 news clips about the Church and the fight against gay marriage, shows a clip of Elder Quentin L. Cook asking for support; shows protests, marches.

Aja (wife) said she was very active in these things, marching alongside her lesbian friends. “I felt fine about it (the church) except for (dramatic pause): the gay rights. I had to ignore that part of it (when taking the discussions) because it was infuriating.”

Dan: “I still feel guilt that I was just, like, a silent person, you know. … If I’m passive, if I just stand back and say I don’t want to talk about Mormonism, then I’m standing then for bigotry.”

Tyler Glenn: “I got home from my mission and then I decided to be gay for a little bit, and that started the conflict. I came out to my producer … and he, like, said, “I’m so happy for you!” and it was the first time that I ever attributed positivity ever to being gay. … I was expecting my life to feel sinful or shame and it wasn’t like that at all and it was so much inclusion.”

Camera pans to Salt Lake Temple, with brides and grooms.

Tyler Glenn: “I started dating a guy openly and I took him to Temple Square, and for me it was like, “When you and I have a kid we’re raising him Mormon and a month after that it was Nov. 5 and a policy was leaked.”

Film shows very negative news clips against the Church policy about people in same-sex relationships as apostates.

Tyler Glenn: “I had just taken the guy I was seeing to the temple and I was just doing these things to sort of remain, and it hit me that I have to leave.” 

Film now shows music video from album titled “Excommunication” and an angry Tyler Glenn tearing at his clothes, drinking, ripping up the Book of Mormon, defacing prophet’s faces, spitting on a vandalized painting of Joseph Smith.

Phone call from Dan to Tyler in the car: “I’ve watched you and been a #*$&! bystander. Things need to change, maybe we can’t force the church to change but maybe by raising more awareness and making more and more Mormons in their heart feel like, this isn’t right, maybe that’s what will make the change.”

Kitchen scene with wife (looks like it was filmed recently and not in real time, a reenactment perhaps?)

Dan: “How do we not offend 50% percent of the people that come?”
Aja: “You’re just trying to enlighten people”
Dan: “What you said right there, enlighten people? That tells people, “You’re in the dark let me enlighten you!”
Aja: “No, no, educate.”
Dan: “You’re stupid, let me educate you.”
Aja: “No not true, I think people don’t know the statistics, the realities.”
Dan: “You can’t come in and say you’re wrong, but maybe say, let’s talk.”
Aja: “You have to change people’s minds as an ally.”

Scene now shows Dan in living room calling John Dehlin on Skype.

Video call between Dan and John Dehlin:

John Dehlin: “I was noticing all these LGBT Mormons who were depressed, suicidal, and the church was encouraging mixed orientation marriages (pans to Mormon and Gay website video clip) where you’re gay but you marry a straight person … they’re encouraging celibacy, so we decided to study what decisions led to healthy outcomes for LGBT people and what decisions led to unhealthy outcomes.”

“What happens if you try and be celibate? What happens if you marry a woman? Mixed orientation marriages were a disaster, celibacy was the worst possible option that they could have chosen.” (Dan nods head in agreement). 

Dehlin continues, “The suicide rates in Utah are alarming, we’ve seen suicide rates for youth between ages 15-19 double in the past few years, triple over the past 8-9 years since 2008. Nowhere else in the entire US are we seeing youth suicide rates double and triple over that same time period. So what’s the cause? What happened in 2007, 2008? Pans to salt lake temple It was when the predominant religion within the state of Utah declares war on LGBT people.”

John Dehlin: “Excommunication is about the worst thing that a Mormon could ever experience. It basically means from a religious perspective that you’re cut off from your family for all of eternity and your family is going to go to a really nice place in heaven, and you’re going to go alone in a dark set place. It’s basically condemning you to the Mormon equivalent to hell, but more than that it’s cutting you off from your tribe, your friends, your family.”

Dehlin continues, “The only thing required for evil to persist is for good men to do nothing. The number of Mormons, frankly, who’ve just decided to remain silent is extremely large, and so I’ve been watching you guys, and in my heart, things are going to change when these guys are willing to speak up.”

Camera pans to Provo Temple and Encircle House, then to the Trevor Project headquarters (LGBT activist group)

Dan: “Mormons are way over here, and LGBT are way over here, so I was thinking, what’s a place where they can be a little more educated?

LGBT activist in response as to how to change members: “If I can get Mormon moms off their temple shift to fall in love with someone [popular], then it’s game over.”

Camera pans over Salt Lake Temple, Church Headquarters

Dan and Tyler talking about where to host Love Loud, suggesting Pioneer Park. Pans to Salt Lake Temple, and Dan says, “Isn’t that like a few blocks from the temple? Three blocks from the temple? Hmmm!” (Dan and Tyler start grinning).

Dan: “We need to name the festival something that will get the Mormons to be like, “Hey, I wanna go!” It should sound progressive, and cool.”

Film goes to John Dehlin interview.

John Dehlin: “A lot of Mormons are really good hearted loving kind charitable people who want what’s right and they want to be kind and loving and tolerant, but they have leaders that are telling them what to think and how to behave.”

Dehlin continues, “Mormon leaders claim to talk to God, so when the church makes statements in the 80s or 90s or 2000s that to be gay is evil and to be in a same-sex marriage or relationship is evil, they’re not just saying that as their own opinion, they’re basically saying that God speaks to the leader of the church and takes that position.”

Camera pans to show President Monson at General Conference.

John Dehlin: “As the church has seen in the past, when the church takes a position and the rest of the nation changes, so in the late 1800s the church was a polygamous church and the rest of the nation wasn’t cool with that, the church was almost destroyed, so the church had to change. Fast forward to the 1960s, the whole United States is starting to support African Americans and civil rights, and the LDS church is opposing the civil rights movement, and that almost destroyed the church, so in 1978 the church changes again.” 

Shows clip of President N. Eldon Tanner 1978 quoting the declaration on the priesthood.

Dehlin continues, “So just like the church eventually got rid of polygamy, the church eventually accepted blacks into full fellowship.”

Dan: “People say, “Just because you can’t go and pound on the Brethren’s door and say, “Thomas S. Monson, change this, man! C’mon, change it!” He’s not going to change it for you, he’s doing what God tells him. But, if all the members of the church are talking about something then the prophet is going to pray about it, right? I think this is one more part of the puzzle that’s coming together and hopefully the apostles and the prophet go pray about it more and God comes down and tells them what’s up!”

John Dehlin: “So there’s a glimmer of hope and in the long term, there’s a lot of hope. The question is how long will it take to get there and how many people will be hurt along the way.”

Interview with parents of boy named Stockton who tragically committed suicide

Stockton in Equality Utah interview: “When I realized I was gay, I got handed a pamphlet called “For the Strength of Youth”

Camera pans to copy of pamphlet with sad music in the background and highlighted the paragraph on sexual purity and chastity.

Stockton continues, “It said, “Homosexual and lesbian behavior is a serious sin” and I got very angry about that, and it just kind of spiraled down from there.”

Mom “He was angry.”

Dad: “He didn’t feel safe in a place that he should have felt the safest.”

Troy Williams (Equality Utah, gay activist): “The rest of society around him, from church to school to government kept sending messages to Stockton that he was less than. I could sense his frustrations and his anger and his fears.”

Camera later pans to scene at a concert in Paris, shows Dan singing “I’m Never Changing Who I Am”

Dan: “I think people wonder, why even associate with Mormonism if it is causing this much harm. Why not just walk away and be done? I’m not going to just walk away and let the house on fire burn. I’d rather do all that I can with this lucky spot that I’ve been put in to hopefully put out a fire.”

Dan continues, “I have these tools and hey, if I want to put on a festival, we’re going to get this press and interviews because of Imagine Dragons. We’re hopefully going to get a ton of press coverage and get people to understand that telling your child that it’s sinful to be gay can be so destructive.”

“I have to pay attention to my heart. I felt that by not speaking out I was doing a big disservice to my community. My goal is to change this in the church. And not to say that I can change the church, but at least to bring together a ton of people who are Mormon who have said, you know, we’ve had enough with this!”

Film goes to June 2017 in NYC at Trevor Project Gala, Dan getting award.

Dan: “I loved a lot of my mission. I did a ton of service work, I lost myself, I became nothing, you’re the geeky stupid looking dude with the name badge and you get Slurpees thrown at you and it’s humbling and it was good for me but for those two years when people asked me what the doctrine was and they said, hey, I’m gay and I feel like I like girls and what do I do about this” and I taught that it was a sin. Because that’s what I had been raised to teach. I never felt it in my heart since I was young.

Dan continues, “I hold regret about that to this day. I wish I could go back and knock on all those doors. I wish that I could reknock them and tell them that I was wrong. I can’t do that. All I can do is come forward today and say that I’m sincerely sorry. Love is love. Love is love. Love is love!”

Film now shows the Provo temple, then goes to scene with Dan and Aja

Dan: “We’re going to show that the whole state of Utah actually believes in this.”

Aja: “People love to hate. We’ll see what happens with this.”

Film now shows Dan reading fan emails and visiting a site which explains a homosexual term called “Poz me” about being “poz friendly” with gay men. The article Dan reads talks about the trend of HIV-positive gay men having sex with those who are not HIV positive—gay men who are not HIV positive purposefully infect others to show a sign of solidarity and shared experiences.

Dan: ”You start to feel upset that it’s so blatantly obvious. Look how obvious this is! Of course we have to love and accept everybody. C’mon guys!”

Dan continues, “I just did an interview with Billboard (shows title “To be gay is beautiful and right and perfect”) and my family saw it and it’s been a little difficult and it’s making them look like bigots.”

Dan’s brother: “The risk is that we’re having an event in Provo Utah and we’re going to talk about Mormon doctrine.”

Dan’s assistant for Love Loud: Brother tragically committed suicide. Says brother attending BYU was having sex with his girlfriend which is against the honor code and you’re kicked out for 5 yrs and can’t associate with any of your professors you’re done. “It started to put him into a downward spiral and depression. Emotional wound after emotional wound. It was hard for him, even though in the eyes of his God, he was clean. But in the culture there, he wasn’t. He was a sinner.”

Dan’s assistant continues: “The harsh reality is that here in Utah the leading cause of death for teens is suicide. I believe and I know that Mormons are good people, that we have sincere hearts, that we’re no less broken than any other society, but the way that our culture is failing right now is in a very unique and deadly way. The shaming that happens in this culture needs to end….we wanted to scream to the world that it needs to change in Utah.”

July 2017, camera pans to Provo and the Temple

Dan: “I’ve never thought about how big the church is vs. the band, and how influential the church is vs. the band. I guess if I really stand back and look at it, the band’s reach is millions and millions.”

July 2017 – Tickets weren’t selling, shows the Salt Lake Temple and Church Headquarters.

Dan: “In order for Mormons to feel safe to come to this, the truth is, Mormons will feel safe about something when the prophet says to feel safe about something. If the prophet said, “Hey, Love Loud is cool” then that would be incredible and that would shift everything I could ever hope for. That is a bridge that has not been created. It would be the most amazing huge step of progress if the church said, “Hey, there’s this LGBTQ event and yeah, the guy who is behind it doesn’t believe it’s a sin to be gay and here’s the stamp of approval. That’s amazing!”

Film goes to scene with Aja and Dan’s 4 or 5 year old daughter.

Aja to daughter: “Do you know what daddy’s doing? He’s putting on a festival because he wants people to understand. Do you know what being gay is? Remember when we talked about that? Remember how boys can love boys and girls can love girls?

Little daughter (4 or 5): “Yeah, And sometimes girls want to be boys and boys want to be girls.”

Aja: “Yeah, and remember that I told you sometimes people can be mean to that person and so we have to protect that person, huh? So the festival is called Love Loud because it means love everybody, no matter what.”

Scene shows Dan and Aja reading message that Church Public Affairs sent to him.

Dan: “The Church statement said “LGBTQ!!! I’ve never heard the church say LGBTQ! It’s always “same-sex attraction” This is awesome!”  And the statement talks about people being LGBTQ and that is “who they are!” “Who they are!” That’s big! It’s a step, It’s pretty awesome.”

Aug 26, day of festival, shows Provo Temple then people in line for LoveLoud festival.

Film crew Interviews gay couple in line: “This is important what Dan’s doing, to help it normalize us.”

Gay man in audience: “When I was a 7 yr old Mormon boy, I was so afraid that I might be gay because if I was, it would mean that I would lose my parents, my family, the faith community that I loved so much. If that 7 yr old boy could watch forward and see tonight with 20,000 Mormons here tonight celebrating us, I would have had more hope for the future. I hope that the 7 or 8 yr old queer kids out there will feel hope for their future as well.”

Brought up young girl named Savannah and her mother on stage. “I was invited here to share my truth. I believe I was made the way I am all parts of me by my Heavenly Parents. They did not mess up when they gave me brown eyes or born bald or made to be gay. I want to love myself and not feel shame!”

Massive applause from crowd.

Gay man in audience: “15 yrs ago I was a student at BYU and I was coming out and I was suicidal and I’m here and I got a hug from a 13 yr old who said that God loves her because He made her gay. It took me until I was 30. I don’t have to try to be better! God made me exactly as I am! I am the best that I can be! I am exactly what He said, “I made you.” It’s been the most amazing thing. I feel like I’m in a dream right now!”

Scene shows applause, crowds, music, people hypnotically chanting, mesmerized, hypnotized.

John Dehlin: “It feels like Mormon Woodstock! It’s amazing. It’s historic. We fought so hard for so long and finally, we’re able to do something significant. We’ve reached critical mass.”

Mama Dragons LGBT activist group: “The church endorsed this, right? So that’s good. But now, we want them to put their money where their mouth is. If they’re going to say we love all of our LGBT people, then let’s get rid of that policy and let’s bring them into full fellowship. I mean, for me personally, nothing less will do! Because you can say I love you all you want but until you act on that in a way that feels inclusive and complete, then it’s a no go.”

Tyler Glenn: “I totally get that people are saying this is historic that they’re approving of anything LGBT related but, I don’t know, I’m a little insulted because they have the policy intact and it doesn’t take away from everyone the pain I went through. That policy (2015) caused me to completely go through a faith crisis. I’ve had suicidality this last year (2017) because I don’t know where I fit in all the time because of them. It’s a tiny step for the church, it’s a huge step for this area.”

Scene shows Provo temple, music starts sounding like angelic, church music.

Scene shows Tyler Glenn on stage, panning out to audience of gay couples holding one another.

Tyler Glenn: “Being an openly gay man performing should speak volumes, I’m happy! I’m proud! I’m open! I have friends and family that love me and you will too!”

Scene shows Tyler making some lewd gestures with fans cheering. Going out body surfing (people present at the Love Loud concert said he was asking the crowd to do lewd things to him).

Scene in slow motion all the young children, young teens in audience chanting, screaming, jumping. Background angelic choir music: heavenly, religious sounding.

Scene then shows two months later, at Temple Square, General Conference.

Dan: “Love Loud was everything we could have hoped for and more. It showed it’s not just me as a Mormon who is antsy for change. The whole Mormon community came out in droves to say this is a place within the church that is broken, how can we fix it?”

Dan continues, “Leading up to LoveLoud, the church obviously reached out to me and we’ve been having an open dialogue. Coming out of LoveLoud, everybody was feeling positive momentum. I had been extremely excited for General Conference. General Conference happens twice a year. It’s where prophets and apostles speak on live TV to the world and to all the Mormons. I think a lot of Mormons, like myself, were waiting to hear an apostle say now let’s’ start to do something, let’s change this.”

Shows clip of President Oaks speaking about the Family Proclamation and in opposition to same-sex marriage in his 2017 talk “The Plan and the Proclamation” … members of the church … are blessed with unique doctrine and different ways of viewing of the world … we’ve witnessed a rapid and growing public acceptance of cohabitation with marriage and same-sex marriage.”

Camera shows a copy of Family Proclamation.

Dan: “Elder Oaks talked about the Family Proclamation which is basically an old piece that was put together by the church that was released about marriage between a man and a woman and these are the things that make up a good healthy family.”

Film shows President Oaks in General Conference: “The Family Proclamation begins … marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is the central to God’s plan for all of his children. It also affirms that gender is an eternal …”

Dan: “The church just basically doubled down on everything they’ve been pounding into my head and Mormons heads for years which is: to be gay and act upon it is a sin. Marriage is between a man and a woman, and that popular culture and popular people will try to tell you otherwise.”

Dan continues, “In light of Love Loud, that for me was a dark day, to say the least. A dark day, a dark week, a dark month.“

“With that being said, there’s one thing my Mormon values have taught me since I was young: it’s that no matter what the world says about who you are, what you believe, still do it. 100%. That spirit was the spirit that carried me through my mission. I felt like I was bearing my truth regardless of what anyone thought of me. That’s all because of Mormonism and my parents and so they have all prepped me for this moment now.”

Dan continues: “A determined Mormon is a scary thing. I will tell you that. Because they don’t stop. I knocked on a hundred doors to get to one door. I knocked thousands of doors on a mission. If there is one thing I can guarantee, it’s that I will continue to knock this door until somebody answers.”

End caption: Dan is organizing the next LoveLoud Festival. It will be held annually in Utah until it is no longer necessary.

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16 thoughts on “Gearing up for LoveLoud: a review of “Believer” documentary

  1. Buffy

    As a never-married woman, I understand what it was like to be alone and celibate in a Church that idolizes family and marriage. I have noticed over the years, however, that the LGBTQ community works very hard to say that its much worse to be GAY and Mormon than it is to be SINGLE and Mormon.

    Reply
    1. Rozy

      Buffy, I admire you for your faithfulness! What the homosexual (and all others) don’t understand is that almost everyone has feelings of sexual attraction and need, but the standard of the Lord is the law of chastity for everyone. There is no happiness in sin, no matter what your attraction is. Satan is pushing hard to normalize sin and he is so very blatant about it now. Blessings to you!

      Reply
  2. Nathan Richardson

    Great review, thank you, Angela. The aim of the creators of the documentary is pretty clear—it’s not just to empathize with people who live homosexual lifestyles. Because he says that in spite of the Church’s outreach to the LGBTQ community, the mere fact that Elder Oaks still reiterated the Church’s stance that “to be gay and act upon it is a sin; marriage is between a man and a woman” was enough to make it “a dark day” for him. It’s clear that empathy, love, etc., will never be enough for him. He will only be satisfied if the Church says that homosexual behavior is not a sin. I hope he’s up front and honest about those aims, but he’s going to continue to be disappointed.

    Reply
  3. Rozy

    Satan has deceived many and will continue to do so. There is no double standard of chastity and wickedness will never bring happiness. Those who are not following the Savior and His prophets will end up miserable like the devil and his followers. We are living out Lehi’s dream in these last days.

    Reply
  4. Maria Allen

    This was an amazing article, to say the least. Thank you. I stand by our Prophet and those that serve alongside him 100% and nothing will ever change that for me. I too agree this is what our ancient prophets foresaw in regards to our day. The world has become so distorted that they no longer believe or see what they are doing is wrong in every shape and form in regards to the wickedness that is and has taken place. Yes, it will be an extremely sad day for those that honestly believe that the Church will one day change in order to suit their purpose. Heavenly Father and his prophets have always said that his teachings, doctrine, commandments, and the church will never change and that is one of the reasons I love being apart of the truthfulness of his gospel. Having a sure knowledge of the return of one day when our beloved Savior will return, we will live in a world where there is true pure love and honesty and not worry about the outside world’s influence. Not only that but to walk and talk alongside our Savior and live in harmony. What a breath of fresh air that will be. Until then, we have work to do as our Prophets have spoken of and one is to remain calm and continue to stand up for what we believe in and share it with others, so they too can experience the blessings that we have been given.

    Reply
  5. Ann

    Men and women, together, (heterosexuality) is the Order of Heaven. Homosexuality is an eternal dead end. That will never change. It can’t; or God would have to entirely re-write the Plan of Salvation and Exaltation. (Something that did not have to occur with the policy changes on polygamy or Blacks and the Priesthood.) So those members expecting a change in LDS doctrine on this topic are going to wait a VERY long time. Members of the LDS church don’t need more revelation on what coupling is going to look like in the eternities – we know. All of us will be single, except those men and women who are sealed in the Temple and live worthy of their covenants. There is no place for homosexuality in the eternities. So enough of this “If the Prophet/Brethren will just seek revelation on this…” nonsense.

    Reply
  6. John Robertson

    “Do you suppose that this people will ever see the day that they will rest in perfect security, in hopes of becoming like another people, nation, state, kingdom, or society? They never will. Christ and Satan never can be friends. Light and darkness always remain opposites.” (Brigham Young, JD 1:185)

    We cannot be the kingdom of God while endorsing the servants of Satan, and keeping them among our membership. Let us have the sense to recognize secret combinations in our midst inspired by the adversary who seek to overthrow the true church from within. They hardly even hide themselves anymore. And oh, what a price we must pay if we allow it to happen.

    Reply
  7. Jacob Hess

    Just want to thank you, Angela – for this well-needed, comprehensive, timely, helpful and brave post. Ty Mansfield told me about it – and it was reinforcing in my own response to the same event. (seehttp://unthinkable.cc/the-problem-with-love-loud/)

    Keep up the great work! You’re doing wonderful work.
    Jacob

    Reply
  8. Harper Scout

    Matthew 22.
    36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
    37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    38 This is the first and great commandment.
    39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

    When I was in high school, I joined the debate team, and learned about values in conflict (freedom v. safety for instance). I had to learn how to argue in favor of both in debate arenas (it was debate after all). It blew my mind at that young age, that sometimes a person had to pick a paramount good value over another good value. To that point, it had always been clearer to me—good v. evil and such.

    My father taught me that when there were values in my personal life (outside of the debate arena) that came into conflict, what Jesus taught in Matthew chapter 22 was how to tell which value was paramount. LOVE. Love for God, love for your neighbor, and love for yourself. I have never forgotten that, because on this hangs everything. If what we are doing is hurting God, ourselves, or one of His children, we should probably re-examine our priorities. Just thought I would share. ❤️💜💚💛

    Reply
  9. Alicia Young

    Wow! Good for you for writing this! I’ve been looking for a rebuttal to Love Loud. I love this group lds women stand. I stand by The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I actually came out as a lesbian about 5 years ago. God divinely intervened in my life. I was dating a woman at the time and I felt this powerful spiritual, magnetic opposition toward her and I knew I couldn’t date her or any woman again. I knew I needed me to change my life immediately when He showed me how I had followed the wrong path. I was inactive during that time, but I’ve gone through my repentance process and I’m active again in the church. And I, like Lot’s wife, will never look back. I know God has the power to change my heart, and he is. I no longer label myself as a lesbian, but as a daughter of God. I plan to get married in the temple and have a family. Let’s continue to stand up for the commandments that God himself created. I have so much love for those struggling with this, and just want them to know that there are people out there who are faithfully trying to be true to their covenants and to their divine identity. If anyone needs someone to chat to who understands what it’s like first hand, come contact me. IG: latterday.warrior

    Reply
    1. Angela Fallentine Post author

      Thank you so very much for your comment and testifying of the joy and peace that comes from living the commandments. What a powerful testament to Christ’s Atonement working in one’s life! We would very much like to see if you’d be willing to write a guest post. Your faithful, strong voice is needed “for such a time as this.”

      Reply

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