He was raised in a strict Mormon family, but Dan Reynolds has always been a supporter of the LGBTQ community.
“I was a little rebellious growing up,” the Imagine Dragons singer, 30, said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday while promoting his upcoming documentary Believer. The project was produced by Live Nation and will air on HBO on June 25.
While growing up in Las Vegas with eight other siblings, the star — who often felt troubled about some aspects of his faith — was taught that homosexuality was a sin.
The entertainer was expelled from Brigham Young University after being caught having sex with his longtime girlfriend and felt a lot of “needless” guilt after the incident.
“Feeling a little bit of shame in my life over something I shouldn’t have been shamed about helped me to kind of identify to some degree with what our LGBTQ youth face all the time in orthodox religion, which is feeling guilt and shame over something that is beautiful,” he told DeGeneres.
Now the entertainer is on a mission to create change in religious communities and champion for LGBTQ youth, who are at a higher risk of dying from suicide.
“I grew up and had a lot of friends who were gay and Mormon,” he told the talk show host about his upbringing. “They couldn’t come out to their parents. They couldn’t even come out to me because we just wouldn’t talk about it. Watching their struggle … was awful.”
Reynolds — who recently split from his wife Aja Volkman — also opened up to DeGeneres about the impact she’s had on his life.
“Aja is the reason that I am anything today,” he said. “All activism in my life, all musical accomplishments come from her. She’s my best friend. She’s been my creative partner for 10 years now, and hopefully for the rest of my life.”