After being put on hold for two years due to the pandemic, the LoveLoud Festival returned to Salt Lake City, Utah. The event, which was hosted by Imagine Dragon’s frontman, Dan Reynolds, was held at the Vivant Arena on Saturday, 14 May 2022.
According to the organizers of the event, the LoveLoud Festival is designed to “ignite the vital conversation about what it means to unconditionally love, understand, accept, and support LGBTQ+ youth in our communities.” In a news release, Reynolds said, “Because of the pandemic, it’s been far too long that we have all been able to come together like this to celebrate diversity and speak out on the power of unconditional love and equality.”
According to gephardtdaily.com, the organizers of the event wrote the following in a statement: “Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. for youth, according to the Centers for Disease Control. LGBTQ+ youths that come from a home or community where they are not accepted are eight times more likely to commit suicide.”
In addition to performances by Dan Reynolds, other featured performances included music by artists like Neon Trees, WILLOW, Anitta, The Aces, Mat & Savanna Shaw, and season seven American Idol runner-up, David Archuleta, who performed only one song, “Glorious,” because he is still recovering from recent vocal surgery.
During Pride Month, in June 2021, then-30-year-old Archuleta, who was raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, came out as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Knowing that the Church considers acting on same-sex attraction to be a sin, he found himself torn between following the beliefs of his faith and being true to himself. At that time, Archuleta said that he is unsure whether he is gay, bisexual, or asexual but that he had come to terms with his sexuality.
In a post on Twitter, he wrote, “I’ve been open to myself and my close family for some years now that I am not sure about my own sexuality. I came out in 2014 as gay to my family. But then I had similar feelings for both genders so maybe a spectrum of bisexual. Then I also have learned I don’t have too many sexual desires and urges as most people which works, I guess because I have a commitment to save myself until marriage. Which people call asexual when they don’t experience sexual urges.”
In an August 2021 interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, David was asked “Have you started dating guys or at least considered dipping your toe in the dating pool and thinking, ‘OK, maybe I’m ready to give this a try?’” He responded, “I feel like if I want to be honest with myself and understand my feelings, I must be open to that. I [definitely]have my boundaries still, and I like to be careful still, but I must be willing to get to know guys. … It’s been great so far. I feel like God has given me people that I needed to walk this journey with. It’s been [really] wonderful so far.”
For much of his life, the world-renowned singer-songwriter said he felt he had to “work so hard to hide that part” of himself. During the darkest of those days, he says he wondered whether it would be better “if I’m not here.”
On Saturday, 14 May 2022, surrounded by thousands of his fans at the Vivant Arena, Archuleta openly shared about the times he felt most alone. The Latter Gay Stories YouTube channel posted a video of the candid and at times emotional speech that he gave to the LoveLoud 2022 crowd. In that video, he says, “I was 30 when I came to terms with myself and came out.” He continued, “Because you think that if it comes out, it’s bad and that you’re going to do something wrong, and you’re going to let so many people down, and you’re going to let God down if you let this part come out of you.”
Archuleta also told the crowd that he spent most of his life trying everything that he could to change that part of himself. He said, “I thought if I put the effort in, I could change myself. I almost got married three times because I thought if I just pushed forward and pushed through it … I would become straight, and everything would be the way I thought it was supposed to be.” After realizing that pushing forward and trying to push through it wasn’t changing him, he began to have suicidal thoughts. He further said, “No matter what I tried, I couldn’t change that part of me. I thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s better if I’m not here. Because if this is bad and if this is a sin, and no matter what I do I can’t get rid of this, maybe I need to get rid of myself. Because maybe that’s better than being this way.”
In the year since he came out as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Archuleta says he’s “felt so much love … from complete strangers, from my family, from my friends.” He also said, “This has been such a liberating year for me to not be afraid of myself anymore. It’s a beautiful thing to be queer.”
The American Idol alum also shared a message with those who may be scared or confused as they come to terms with their own sexuality: “If you’ve come to believe all your life that this is bad and this is scary, it may be scary at first, but it is so worth it. . .. I hope you can learn to love yourself, to have compassion for yourself. This has been such a liberating year for me to not be afraid of myself anymore.”
Before his performance, Archuleta dedicated the song he was about to sing to anyone who has ever felt “like you were lost, and like you were alone, and like you didn’t belong.” “Because life is like a symphony, and if you just keep listening, you’ll find the part that you play.”
On Monday, 16 May 2022, Archuleta wrote in an Instagram post:
Step by step. Being you for all that you are should be celebrated. Especially after we’ve spent so much time hiding and feeling confused trying to fit a hetero-norm narrative. Even feeling like a failure or disappointment for much of our lives. But I just want to say. Be you. And take time to get to know who that is for all that you are. It is all worthy of love and being loved.
All proceeds from the LOVELOUD Festival benefit local and national LGBTQ+ charities.