(RNS) KISS may have been on the cover of the April 10 issue of Rolling Stone, but the most eye-opening headline may have been the one that proclaimed: “Gay, Mormon & Finally Out.”

Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees performs during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Bash in 2012.

Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees performs during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Bash in 2012. Photo courtesy of Mike Deerkoski via Wikimedia Commons


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It led readers to page 46 and a story about Tyler Glenn, the frontman for Neon Trees, Utah’s most prominent band.

After years of denials and lyrics that obscure the issue, Glenn declared proudly that he is gay —  and still a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I believe and I have faith and I was born with this,” Glenn told The Salt Lake Tribune in one of the first interviews since coming out.

There has been speculation about the flamboyant, colorful lead singer and lyricist in the past. Of course, Glenn’s announcement is most shocking because the members of the well-known band are members of the LDS Church, which has worked against legalization of same-sex marriage in California and elsewhere.

But rather than say he is leaving the church, Glenn adamantly believes there is nothing in Jesus Christ’s teaching that tells him he is unworthy of grace.

Glenn knows the importance of coming out.

“This is something I wanted to share,” he said. “I didn’t want to just tweet it out. I had much more to say.”

Overall, Glenn said he was happy with the Rolling Stone article.

“You wonder if it would be salacious,” he said. “I was glad they gave me so much room to tell my story.”

He wasn’t worried about the reaction from his bandmates.

“We have become a real family unit,” he said. “There’s a respect level for each member. I feel closer to the band because of it. … It’s cool because the band is so cool with it.”

Neon Trees drummer Elaine Bradley, described by Rolling Stone as “the band’s most devout Mormon,” appreciated that the author, Caryn Ganz, “adopted Tyler’s tone.”

It would have been easy, she explained, “to sensationalize the story,”

She said there is no way Glenn’s sexual orientation would cause any tension in the band.

“There’s nothing in the teachings (of the faith) that would be ground for animosity,” said the Provo resident and mother of a 1-year-old. “There are no problems at all.”

Glenn’s declaration of sexual independence comes as Neon Trees is about to release its third album, “Pop Psychology.” The band also has planned a tour in Europe and North America, ending in Salt Lake City on June 16. (See box on D1 for concert details.)

While the bulk of “Pop Psychology” was written before the announcement, Glenn said its themes of identity speak to the most challenging part of being a rock star: being in the spotlight while an important part of him lived in the shadows.

“This album is … my struggle,” he said.

Songs such as “Teenager in Love” are about living a life of lies, and the first single, “Sleeping with a Friend,” is about same-sex coupling, albeit not overtly.

While some of the subject matter is different, Glenn said “Pop Psychology” has a “celebratory mood — there’s a lot of meat. … There is a lightness overall, and not as much to prove.”

(David Burger writes for The Salt Lake Tribune.)

YS END BURGER

27 Comments

  1. The Great God Pan

    According to the pro-Mormon site What Mormons Believe, homosexuality is not exactly smiled upon by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It appears that the Church encourages people like Tyler Glenn to “work to overcome” their sexual orientation, which the Church does not believe is innate. Unfortunately, attempting to “overcome” homosexuality through so-called “conversion therapy” has been shown to be harmful and ineffective.

    I wonder if he has considered leaving Mormonism behind instead of remaining part of an organization that seeks to harm him.

    The Mormon stance on homosexuality:
    whatmormonsbelieve.org/homosexuality.html

    • I’m Mormon and I’ve never heard of whatmormonsbelieve.org. Haven’t read the article you linked to, but if your description is an accurate summary of it, the article is wrong.

      Members who openly self-identify as gay but who aren’t having gay sex can hold church callings, temple recommends, etc. and enjoy full fellowship in the church. Basically, the church teaches that having certain leanings isn’t sinful, but that only one type of sexual activity is sanctioned by God: Heterosexual activity with one’s own spouse.

      If the article you linked to said more or less than this, it was the author’s own views. The church is actually pretty plain about this.

      • LorinEdit, you are not disagreeing with The Great God Pan’s assessment of the LDS attitude towards homosexuality.

        You have said yourself in order to become full members of the church, they have to cut themselves off from relationships they would find physically and emotionally satisfying. Or worse, they would be dishonest with themselves and try to force themselves into a heterosexual relationship for public appearances. This sort of thing is harmful in of itself.

        Self-deception and public pretense are not great building blocks for a sense of community. It would be more honest if the Mormon Church just came out and said they reject gay people outright. It is essentially what they are saying but in the coyest, most euphemistically fashion possible.

        • Larry, you would be correct, if the church said you MUST marry to be in full fellowship. This is not true. You can be a full member of the church, be single, and be completely abstinent. Many prominent members of the church done this in the past. The act of self control and self denial is one that is common throughout Christianity.

          Many would argue that this isn’t fair to homosexuals, and I am not commenting on that, just stating that your presumption that in order to be in full fellowship they must “force themselves into a heterosexual relationship for public appearances” is false.

          • The LDS does not accept gay marriage. The only choice as to not be treated as as “lesser members” is sham heterosexual marriage or a life of denial that other members are not required to do. A life of denial while peers of the same stature can live with loving adult relationships. Its always going to be an inferior status accordingly. Full members but not full human beings.

            It is far less an act of self-control and denial as it is social pressure and fear of being ostracized by the group and family. Frankly to me, the notion of being openly gay and Mormon seems is so much masochism. Other than pressure from one’s family and peers, there is no compelling reason I can see for someone to willingly put themselves into a situation where they will always be treated as an inferior.

            When it comes to fairness, my view is that churches set their own rules on who is considered a member. None of it ever has to make sense. Nobody expects a religion to be rational.

      • The Great God Pan

        There is no substantive difference between what you said and what the article I linked to says. I just framed it in a less flattering light than you have.

    • Please Check Your Facts

      On whatmormonsbelieve.org you will also notice that it says Gordon B Hinkley is the current profit when in fact he passed away in 2008, so the other information on the page is not up to date with the Church’s current views on any subject.

    • I suspect your referred to website is most likely a hate Mormons website who exaggerate and often lie about our beliefs. Latter-Day Saints (our preferred name) hate no one. We love all people and try to be kind and considerate to them. Personally, I have one nephew and a step-grandson and step-granddaughter whom are homosexual. Do I love them? Of course I do. Do I preach at them? I do not. Do I shun them? I do not. Do I understand their problem? Honestly, I do not, but I love them as much and perhaps in some instances more than my strait family members. Do we ban them from our meetings? We do not. Homosexuality is a sin if the person involved practices it, but then so is adultery and lying or stealing. In no case do we not love and care for them, no do we call them out for their sinning in our meetings. We claim to be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and to the best of my knowledge, Christ never derided sinners. He blessed them and asked them to not sin further.

      • “Latter-Day Saints (our preferred name) hate no one. We love all people and try to be kind and considerate to them. ”

        In the most notorious anti-gay Hate Vote of all, the 2008 California H8te Vote that actually took away the established right LGBT Californians had to legal marriage, we saw that anti-gays cheated to throw the vote. The federal judge who revoked the H8te Vote had in his possession an email written by Catholic bishops to Mormon leaders in which they both agreed to violate California campaign finance laws to throw the H8te Vote by making secret, illegal cash and in-kind contributions to the H8te Vote. The email serves as proof positive they knew they were breaking the law; the email itself is an act of criminal collusion. We know the Mormons made the Hate Videos shown on TV, but they refused to report these in-kind contributions as required by law. We know Mormons were told by their leaders to make large, secret contributions to the H8te Vote under pain of excommunication, and we know Mormons sent their church members from out of state. Mormon leaders were required by California law to report these contributions, but they refused. We know Mormons operated secret, illegal call centers in Idaho and Utah from which they made deceptive calls, because a million Californians reported these deceptive calls where anti-gays claimed a “yes” vote would support marriage equality.

        Clearly, Mormon leaders have a very peculiar way of showing “love.”

        • For some reason, the content of this post reminds me of a line from that Neon Trees song: “Hey baby what you gotta say? All you’re giving me is fiction.”

          Great. Now I’ve got that song stuck in my head…

        • Except for the quote from Rex, everything you have stated is completely false. Period. There were no “secret” emails breaking the law (unless you can magically produce it (if they existed they would have been made public as part of the court proceedings). There were no secret contributions, there were no threats of excommunication, and no one was “sent” by the Church anywhere. You make many scurrilous throwaway claims with absolutely no supporting facts. Please show the links to factual, authoritative websites and articles.

  2. A real Christian attitude to throw any object at someone you disagree with and claim God disagrees with. Two wrongs certainly do not make a right! Some where I recall GOD is the only judge, but some how you think GOD needs your help in judging. Some where I recall only GOD will determine who enters heaven or not, but some how you think GOD needs your help for he is not qualified to make the decisions. God bless you brother!

  3. I am a Mormon and I disagree with your comment. I believe it is possible to be a good Mormon and be homosexual. Don’t get me wrong, I DO believe that homosexual acts are sins. Whether a person is born with it, I don’t know, but I have also come to believe that same-sex attraction is not a conscious choice in the vast majority of cases. If the person acts on that same-sex attraction, that is when the person sins. So, one can be homosexual (have same-sex attraction), but still not sin (act on it).

    I am an Eagle Scout and a Webelos Scout leader. In a recent survey I gave the opinion that gay boys should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scout Program for the same reasoning I gave in the previous paragraph. I can’t imagine what it is like to struggle with same sex attraction (I am happily married 10 years), but I don’t think that we abandon those who are vulnerable and have the courage to admit it. The Mormon church teaches to love and accept people but not to encourage sin.

    I do not know all of Tyler Glen’s story, but he is not necessarily saying that he thinks it is OK to disobey the law of chastity (to only have sexual relations between a man and a woman legally married), but he appears to be admitting he has the challenge and is choosing to remain faithful. If that is his message, I applaud him.

  4. Although I do not speak for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as a member I can tell you that nothing in the doctrines of the Church suggests alienation of those who are homosexual anymore than it suggests alienation of those who have a proclivity toward fornication or adultery. What the Church does teach is that every member is expected to live within the bounds the Lord has set, and so long as a homosexual member of the Church lives his or her life in accordance with these teachings, they are fine. And for those who step outside the bounds, whether it be hetero- or homosexual activity outside the bonds of marriage, they are lovingly invited to repent, and come unto Christ and live by His teachings.

    There is nothing more than this that should be inferred, and Tyler is as much a faithful member of the Church as any others who strive for obedience, recognizing that we are all sinners, and all fall short of the glory of God.

    • Kelly- Well said! Every sin is in need of being stopped/Repented of
      not just gay marriage and/or abortion which many today only seem
      to talk about/focus on so their sin doesn’t seem as bad. Hatred is a
      sin and so is/are gambling,being mean,coveting,gossip,getting drunk,
      smoking dope/cigars,sleepin around,sellin sex,sharp tongues,discord,
      seeing strippers,jealousy yet those sins never get confronted because
      most people today want to talk about other people and their sin instead
      of looking at themselves. We all sin/fall short/must Repent/follow Christ!

      Ephesians 5:18 says don’t get drunk and 1 Corinthians 6:10 says that
      drunkards go to hell so why are Christians still getting drunk? The wine
      Jesus made was new wine/diluted and the Bible says don’t get drunk on
      strong wine so people who still get drunk with/on wine are also wrong!

    • Yourself, LorinEdit, and Jvs113 have all given good explanations of what the Latter-Day-Saints position is on this issue, and thanks for doing so.

      But here’s the problem: When you compare your respective statements to the RNS article about what Glenn has been saying and singing, HE clearly is not saying what you’re saying, and HE is not singing what you’re saying.

      The RNS article clearly emphasizes that Glenn is “PROUDLY” gay, not same-sex-attracted yet walking the path you described as “sinners striving for obedience.” There is not a single word of affirmation of the Mormon position in Glenn’s statements at all.

      And obviously Glenn’s song “Sleeping With A Friend” is NOT about “…those who step outside the bounds, whether it be hetero- or homosexual activity outside the bonds of marriage, they are lovingly invited to repent, and come unto Christ and live by His teachings.” No, that’s NOT what he’s singing.

      Like many popular singers, this guy is in a position to influence MANY young people. AND he’s attaching the Mormon label to his position. So that’s why I said, it’s time to turn up the heat on this boy. Time to take a stand. Is Glenn saying what the Latter-Day Saints say? Or is he saying what the GAY ACTIVISTS say?

  5. Mormon leaders will drop their homophobic misdeeds just as surely as they dropped their anti-African misdeeds when they recognize they are about to lose money in the form of tax-exempt status over such stances.

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