Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees finds freedom and support since coming out

The Mormon Church is notoriously steadfast in its opposition to LGBT behavior and rights, as well as marriage equality. But that’s not always top of mind in a Mormon believer’s struggle to come out.

“I don’t know if it’s that the media has latched on to the stories about really oppressed Mormons,” says Tyler Glenn. “But for me, I never really felt oppressed because I was Mormon…. I don’t know, I never heard that homosexuality was wrong on Sundays. That wasn’t something that we were really taught in church.”

Neon Trees Photo by Andrew Zaeh

Neon Trees
Photo by Andrew Zaeh

The lead singer of the New Wave/pop band Neon Trees, Glenn came out publicly a few months ago. “I just came to that point when I was tired of the excuses,” he says. Glenn, who remembers having crushes on boys at age six, first came out to the band’s producer about a year ago, then the full band and his family — all, in point of fact, Mormons. The response? “Pretty incredible,” he says. “I don’t think I’ve lost a single friend, honestly. I definitely feel closer to people in my life that maybe were just kind of there before…. And my family has been really supportive.”

Glenn came out in the buildup to release of the band’s energetic new album Pop Psychology, on which only the first single, “Sleeping With a Friend,” is explicitly gay. “I had written the album prior to telling anyone outwardly that I was gay,” he says. So instead of anything gay per se, the lyrics are more universal, often touching on the hurdles to find love in today’s modern age. “I had a real fear that I wouldn’t find love — and I think I might still have that,” Glenn says. Of course, at least theoretically, coming out should help minimize that fear. Coming out also aided in the album’s promotion — “I just found comfort in talking about the songs honestly” — and has been a boon on tour, too.

“It seems like there’s more of a connection to some of the nuances in the music and lyrics,” Glenn says. “And I think my overall performance has been a lot more carefree. I think there was always an element of holding back before.”

Neon Trees performs Friday, July 11, at Rams Head Live!, 20 Market Place, Baltimore. Tickets are $25. Call 410-244-1131 or visit ramsheadlive.com. The Sunday, July 13, show at Nightclub 9:30, 815 V St. NW. is sold out. Visit 930.com.

Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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