During last night’s Billboard Music Awards telecast from Las Vegas, Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds used the band’s acceptance speech time for winning Top Rock Artists to call for a nationwide ban on so-called conversion therapy.
“I just want to take this moment to say that there are still 34 states that don’t have laws banning conversion therapy,” said Reynolds backed by his band mates Wayne Sermon, Ben McKee, and Daniel Platzman. “On top of that, 58 percent of our LGBTQ population live in those states. This can change, but it’s going to take all of us talking to our state legislature, pushing forward laws to protect our LGBTQ youth.”
“And lastly, we have seen with conversion therapy that our LGBTQ youth have double the rate of depression, triple the rate of suicide after conversion therapy,” he added. “It’s not working and needs to change.”
Major medical organizations like the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all denounced ‘conversion therapy’ which treats being gay as a mental illness. Also known as ‘ex-gay therapy,’ the practice has been shown to lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, anxiety and, in some cases, suicidal behavior.
Currently, 16 states plus Washington D.C. have banned the harmful practice on minors.
Reynolds, a longtime LGBTQ ally, has spent years standing up for the community. Growing up Mormon in Utah, he saw close friends struggle to resolve being gay with their families and faith.
Reynolds does a lot more than make speeches at award shows, though.
He teamed up with former Mormon rocker Tyler Glenn to create the annual music festival LOVELOUD which aims to raise money for LGBTQ charities and organizations like The Trevor Project and the Tegan and Sara Foundation.
He also helped produce the documentary Believer, which explores how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Last month, Reynolds took to Twitter calling for religious leaders to help stop the practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy.