On Friday, September 14, students and faculty alike gathered in the Great Hall to watch Believer; a documentary about equality and mental health in Utah. Following the film, a talkback was facilitated by Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah, and Lance Lowry, Executive Director of the Love Loud Foundation.
Featured in the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Believer follows Mormon Dan Reynolds, frontman of Imagine Dragons, as he explores how the LDS Church treats its LGBTQ members. With the rising suicide rate amongst teens in the state of Utah, his concern with the church’s policies sends him on an unexpected path of acceptance and change.
The HBO film also documents Reynolds’ process of organizing the first-ever LoveLoud Festival concert in Orem, Utah, to benefit gay rights organizations. While Believer takes a broader look at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ treatment of LGBTQ members, it also focuses on the suicide rate in the community, which has skyrocketed in the last decade. The film centers on Reynolds, Aja Volkman, (his wife), and Tyler Glenn, lead singer of the Neon Trees. It also features local members of the LGBTQ community and some of the struggles of living LGBTQ in Utah.
During the panel, Williams and Lowry opened up about how this documentary can be a change for LGBTQ individuals in Utah and their relationship with the LDS church.
“Believer’s purpose is to start a dialogue,” stated Lance Lowry. “(The goal) is to find ways to become better and be more loving.”
Troy Williams also stated: “the things we share is so much greater than the things that set us apart. We need to open our mouths more and ask how (the LGBTQ Community) can feel more welcome at SUU.”
Believer aims to bridge the gap between LGBTQ individuals and the LDS church. It is important to understand we are all humans deserving of love. It is our duty to be allies for the LGBTQ community.
Resources are available to those who need additional support. SUU Care and Support Team (CAST) is comprised of trained faculty and staff who are committed to creating an environment at SUU that supports students who may be struggling with emotional distress and mental health issues. These members are good listeners, knowledgeable and are committed to helping students succeed.
Story by: Cassidy Jasperson
Photo by: HBO