LOVELOUD aims for diversity in third year spotlighting Kesha

Tegan Quin of pop duo Tegan and Sara feels like she is still “living off the fumes” from last year’s LOVELOUD Festival Powered by AT&T.

“I just feel so pumped,” said Quin, a member of the LOVELOUD board, in a recent phone interview with the Daily Herald in Provo. “It was such a cool experience.”

The third annual LOVELOUD Festival supporting LGBTQ youth, set for Saturday at USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City, will feature a diversified lineup, according to the event’s founder and Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds.

“This is the first year that Imagine Dragons isn’t performing, and so it’s kind of taking its own wings and flying,” Reynolds said in the interview.

Reynolds said Imagine Dragons, which has headlined LOVELOUD for the past two years, will not perform Saturday because the event organizers wanted the festival “to be its own thing.”

“It’s nothing to do with the band not supporting LOVELOUD. They love LOVELOUD, and I’m sure they’ll perform in future years,” Reynolds said. “This is not a festival about Imagine Dragons. This is a festival about our LGBTQ youth and celebrating them.”

The event is now building on the foundation Imagine Dragons helped create of “being inclusive and bringing people out and getting families out,” Reynolds said.

“It’s awesome because people are still coming out and buying tickets, and it shows that it’s not just about the musicians,” Reynolds said. “It’s about what LOVELOUD stands for, and all these people are coming out, at the end of the day, to support our youth, and so that’s a really rad thing.”

Reynolds said LOVELOUD is excited to host pop star Kesha as this year’s headliner.

“She’s been an ally for a long time and a member of the community that’s just trying to make things better, and her music is awesome, her heart is amazing,” Reynolds said. “She was just an obvious choice, and we reached for the stars, and somehow it worked out, so we feel really lucky to have her.”

Internet and TV celebrity Kalen Allen, known for his guest spot on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” will host the 2019 festival.

“He’s just an incredible, incredible human being. He just has so much love to give,” Quin said. “I just think he’s going to bring so much positive energy to the show, and I can’t think of a better host.”

This year’s event also will spotlight a variety of other speakers and performers, including Reynolds, AJR, Tegan and Sara, Daya, K. Flay, PVRIS, Laura Jane Grace, Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees, Vincint, Paul Cardall, Foreign Figures, recent Brigham Young University valedictorian Matt Easton, and former BYU Cosmo mascot Charlie Bird with BYU Cougarettes and Alumni.

Quin said the general reaction from the acts participating in LOVELOUD this year has been so positive “it’s kind of ridiculous.”

“Even people who are unavailable are so interested in being involved in some way,” Quin said. “I think for all of us, this is a very easy thing to come to the table and agree on, which is that our LGBTQ youth need our support and love.”

The festival aims to again raise more than $1 million for organizations serving LGBTQ youth, with proceeds benefiting groups including The Trevor Project, Encircle, GLAAD, the Tegan and Sara Foundation, and the Human Rights Campaign.

“We’re almost doubling, I think, the amount of people we’re giving to this year,” Quin said. “It’s just continuing to grow. I think all of us on the LOVELOUD board are just excited to see where it goes the next couple years. Obviously, $1 million is a really, really big goal, but I think we’d like to raise even more next year.”

LOVELOUD hopes to be “as inclusive as possible for everyone” by designating gender-neutral bathrooms, putting volunteers through a Gender Spectrum sensitivity training and partnering with KultureCity to make the event inclusive to guests with sensory needs.

AT&T also will live stream and broadcast the event on Twitter and the AT&T Audience Network on DirecTV and WatchTV.

Reynolds founded LOVELOUD in Utah in 2017 in an effort to “ignite some vital conversations about what it means to love, accept and celebrate our LGBTQ youth.”

“We started here because this is part of my home and upbringing and I am Mormon, I grew up Mormon, I understand to some degree this community, and I know it consists of a lot of really wonderful, loving, caring people,” Reynolds said. “But we have a part of our community that is broken, and that’s that we’re losing our LGBTQ youth because they are not feeling accepted, loved, even celebrated, and so that’s the goal is to change that, and I know that we can, and I think we already are taking steps towards that.”

The festival “is needed in a lot more places than just Utah,” according to Reynolds.

“Really the whole world needs it, and so our goal is to do this correctly, learn how to run a festival, learn how to do it in the best way possible that really makes progress in the community and is part of the community and then also spread our wings and bring it to other places,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said he is “really excited” going into this third year of LOVELOUD because he feels “the community has just been really incredible in how they’ve rallied around it, and it really speaks to the people of Utah.”

“I hope that everybody walks away with a spirit of celebration for our diversity and for our youth and that they can feel equal and celebrated and loved and safe in their community, in their school, in their homes, so that’s our goal,” Reynolds said.

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