Music

Mormon lead singer of Neon Trees comes out as gay

March 24, 2014 at 2:35 PM ET

Image: Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees
Stephen J. Cohen / Getty Images file
Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees performs during the 2012 Bunbury Music Festival at Yeatman's Cove Park in Cincinnati on July 15, 2012.

Tyler Glenn — lead singer for Provo, Utah, New Wave-pop quartet Neon Trees and a Mormon his entire life — reveals he is gay in the new issue of Rolling Stone (on stands Friday, March 28). "I've always felt like I'm an open book, and yet obviously I haven't been completely," he tells RS' Caryn Ganz. But he is now: Glenn speaks candidly about his first gay experiences, his band's reaction to his coming out and his complicated relationship with his conservative religion in the new story.

The Hidden war against gay teens

Glenn says he's known he was gay since he was a young child, but kept his sexuality a secret — until now. "I had my crushes on guys throughout high school, but it was never an overwhelming thing until my 20s," he admits. "Then I'd be dating girls and in love with my straight friend and it was the worst feeling in the world." (Read the full feature on RollingStone.com on Tuesday).

"We were always taught, and I hate this word, 'tolerance,'" he says, regarding his church's stance on homosexuality, which is notoriously fraught. "The only time that felt different was when the Prop 8 thing came up," he says, referring to when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent an estimated $22 million fighting same-sex marriage in California in 2008.

Glenn started to tell close friends and family members his big news in October 2013, as he was finishing up writing songs for Neon Trees' upcoming third LP, "Pop Psychology," many of which address his years in the closet. Today, he's inspired by the variety of men and women from all corners of pop culture who have been coming out publically, especially athletes facing high stakes.

"I really love all of the sports figures that are coming out recently," he says. "I appreciated Michael Sam was like, 'I want to be able to go to the movies and hold hands with my boyfriend.' Even hearing him say 'boyfriend,' I was just like, that's cool."

Read the full story for reaction from Glenn's Neon Trees bandmates and his mother, plus Glenn's take on straight artists acting as the gay community's spokespeople and his explanation of the events that led to his big coming out.

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