When Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees announced in March that he’s gay, the bigger headline behind his revelation was that he is one of the few publicly out Mormons.
The reaction he got wasn’t what he was expecting.
“I was surprised at how many Mormon church leaders wrote me messages saying, ‘This is great that you’re doing this,’ ” the 30-year-old lead singer said in a recent interview. “That really was cool.”
Glenn said he is looking forward to speaking up about gay acceptance in his religious culture and assisting young adults who face some of the hardships that he experienced.
“On the level of being a role model for kids or LGBT Mormon youth, I’m totally down because I come from that background and I would be able to speak to them honestly,” he said.
Glenn has performed with the Provo, Utah-based Neon Trees for nearly a decade. All members of the alternative band are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Neon Trees, which also includes Elaine Bradley, Chris Allen and Branden Campbell, achieved platinum-selling hits with 2009’s “Animals” and 2011’s “Everybody Talks.” The alternative band released its third album, “Pop Psychology,” in April, and the band will perform Tuesday at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre.
Glenn said his recent revelation isn’t a reflection of the entire band.
“I was also really clear to my bandmates, we’re not a gay band all of a sudden; this doesn’t typecast us,” he said. “I’m a gay man and it’s fine, and our shows aren’t going to become a gay show.”
Glenn said he hopes members of the Mormon church will continue to become more understanding and accepting of homosexuality and gay marriage.
“It’s terrible some of the things that have been said by church leaders, but I also feel like there’s a lot of strides that have been made even since the Prop 8 debacle years ago,” he said, referring to the Mormon church’s opposition to California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage in 2008.
Some gay Mormons say they are now being welcomed back to the church even though they remain in same-sex relationships. And there is a growing movement to push church leaders to be more accepting and compassionate.
Yet church leaders continue to emphasize that the faith opposes gay marriage and that homosexuality is a sin.
“I consider myself Mormon, I believe in Mormonism, I believe in the Book of Mormon and I try to follow the teachings. … I don’t always attend church on Sunday, but I wasn’t going to throw away my faith,” Glenn said.
Glenn said the band’s new album explores his “identity crisis and figuring out who I am and finding love.”
He is the only member of the band who isn’t married.
“I’m like, ‘What do I do?’ I hate gay apps. I don’t know if I should embrace them or not. I just don’t want to hook up, I want to find someone. I also want to have love,” he said.
What would his online profile say?
“I like the color cobalt blue. I like sashimi, not sushi. I gave up Diet Coke a year ago so I’m pretty clean. That was like my last vice,” he said, laughing. “And I like men with meat on their bones.”