Last night Imagine Dragons beat out the likes of Panic! At the Disco and Queen (yes, that Queen) to take home the honours for Top Rock Artist at the Billboard Music Awards, but in lieu of celebrations, the band used their platform to call out the laws permitting conversion therapy that affect LGBTQ youth across more than half of American states.
Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds, joined by bandmates Wayne Sermon, Ben McKee, and Daniel Platzman, brought attention to the fact that there are “34 states that have no laws banning conversion therapy,” with the singer adding that “on top of that, 58% of our LGBTQ population live in those states.”
“This can change,” Reynolds said. “But it’s going to take all of us talking to our state legislation pushing forward lives to protect our LGBTQ youth.” He then went on to highlight the detrimental effects of these programs, revealing “we have seen with conversion therapy our LGBTQ youth have doubled the rate of depression, triple the rate of suicide after conversion therapy. It’s not working, it needs to change.”
As one of the most prominent artists in modern rock, there’s no doubt that when you use your platform to shed light on these issues, as Imagine Dragons did, people will listen – and that’s exactly what happened. In response to Reynolds’ speech, many affected by these policies took to Twitter to offer their emotional thanks to the singer for using his acceptance speech as a platform for LGBTQ activism and allyship:
Thank you so much @Imaginedragons for using your Top Rock Award speech as a platform to speak about LGBTQ+ issues such as the lack of laws banning conversion therapy and the high mental health issues facing our community. Love and support 🌈❤️ #BBMAs
— Luke Waltham (@lukewaltham) May 2, 2019
A statement on conversion therapy. So needed. 34 states still allow it. #BBMAs
It is 2019. Let LGBTQ people live
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) May 2, 2019
in front of millions of people dan reynolds and imagine dragons brought attention to one of the largest problems the queer community faces. im literally ready to cry.
— Mandy (@denique_) May 2, 2019
This isn’t the first time the frontman has spoken out about the marginalization of the LGBTQ community. Last year, Reynolds starred in the HBO documentary Believer, where he explored the detrimental effects of the Mormon Church (which he considers himself a member of) on LGBTQ youth, in addition to calling out Eminem over Twitter for his continued use of homophobic slurs on his most recent album, Kamikaze:
it’s never ok to say a word that is filled with hate. I don’t care what year you were born in or what meaning it has to you.
if it contributes to hate and bigotry then it is hateful. period.
there is never an ok time to say the word fa**ot
I don’t care who you are.
— Dan Reynolds (@DanReynolds) August 31, 2018
Imagine Dragons forgoing the usual thank-you’s in their acceptance speech to show solidarity with marginalized communities follows a similar instance of mega-popular bands using their awards as a platform to bring attention to social issues: Earlier this year at the BRIT Awards, the 1975’s Matt Healy used his band’s acceptance speech to call out the music industry’s pervasive culture of misogyny. More of this, please.