GA Voice - - Outspoken -

A year later, Glenn re­ceived dispir­it­ing news that left him feel­ing just the op­po­site: The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints en­acted a pol­icy that pre­vents chil­dren liv­ing with same-sex cou­ples from be­ing bap­tized un­til age 18 – also, they must “dis­avow” same-sex re­la­tion­ships be­fore bap­tism – and pro­claims mem­bers in gay mar­riages sub­ject to ex­com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

The church’s shame­ful de­ci­sion had a de­struc­tive ef­fect on Glenn’s well-be­ing. “I tried to kill my­self,” the singer con­fesses on the new al­bum’s G.D.M.M.L. GRLS (i.e. “God Didn’t Make Me Like Girls”), “and I’m not the only one.”

Dur­ing our sober­ing ex­change, the 32-year-old ex-Mor­mon spoke can­didly about his de­scent into a life-threat­en­ing low and how his own fans pulled – and are still pulling – him through.

When were you hav­ing th­ese sui­ci­dal thoughts and what kept you from tak­ing your life?

(Sighs) To be hon­est, it was ear­lier this year. For me, I be­lieved in Mor­monism, and I knew I was gay, and then I tried to merge the two to­gether. Then, when the church put out a pol­icy that clearly put same-sex cou­ples in their place and in a marginal­ized box, it was just clear to me it was a toxic space. I started look­ing at things that I thought I knew were true my whole life and re­ally be­gan to see that those things weren’t true. I looked deeper and I fell down a rab­bit hole. I felt the rug had Neon Trees singer Tyler Glenn re­leased his de­but solo al­bum, “Ex­com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” this month. (Photo by Mered­ith Truax) been pulled out from un­der me, and I didn’t know what to be­lieve in. It be­came re­ally dark, and I re­al­ized how it feels to want to sort of, you know, leave. And, to be hon­est, even two months ago I felt this thought and saw my life sort of – I don’t know. It’s been a long road. I to­tally rec­og­nize now what it’s like to be that dark and to think that that might be an op­tion, and it freaked me out.

How would you de­scribe the feel­ing of be­ing this bea­con of light for young queer peo­ple, but at the same time ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the same strug­gles they’re go­ing through? Is it con­flict­ing for you?

It is. (Sighs) A month ago I went to Wy­oming for a week­end with LGBTQ kids to speak with Matthew Shep­ard’s mom, to hear my own mom speak about be­ing a mother of a queer kid, and then I just got to hear from kid after kid and adults as well who were pour­ing their hearts out. But the day be­fore was prob­a­bly one of the lower points in my life – of this year, at least.

I was on a plane and I was telling the lady next to me that I want to be able to tell all th­ese peo­ple that it gets bet­ter, but I don’t know that for sure. Then to be able to go and spend a week­end in Wy­oming and have my per­spec­tive and at­ti­tude change – those are the things that keep me from fall­ing com­pletely down that dark hole. So, it’s con­flict­ing. It ex­hausts me be­cause I’m ac­tu­ally just kind of an in­tro­vert. I know that about my­self. But I am so in awe of other peo­ple’s strength, and I need them as much as maybe they need me some­times. I need to hear that it’s gonna be good, that there’s a point to all this. So, I feel re­ally bonded to my gay­ness, I feel re­ally bonded to the com­mu­nity more than I ever have, and I’m re­ally ex­plor­ing that. That, I think, is one of the most re­ward­ing things about this record so far for me.

What were you feel­ing dur­ing the process of writ­ing and record­ing the songs for “Ex­com­mu­ni­ca­tion?”

I felt pretty out of my mind when I was writ­ing a lot of it be­cause I just felt com­pelled ev­ery day. I woke up and paced my apart­ment, man­i­cally writ­ing beats so that I could sing the melody in my head. There are a few songs that didn’t make the record that are even more raw and pointed, but what ended up mak­ing the record is a body of work that show­cases the highs and lows of this tran­si­tion, as well as this com­ing to terms with iden­tity. In that way, writ­ing it was re­ally ef­fort­less, but ex­haust­ing.

Record­ing it was one of the most cre­ative, joy­ful ex­pe­ri­ences so far in my mu­si­cal ca­reer. That’s what makes it worth it. It’s re­ally re­ward­ing. I hate to sound like this guy who’s like, “I don’t care if it’s No. 1,” or, “I don’t care if I have a hit off of it” – those things are im­por­tant – but what’s driv­ing this record is the real-life cri­sis that I’ve gone through and shin­ing a light on those who are also go­ing through it. To know I’m not alone is re­ally ex­cit­ing. So, if the record reaches the au­di­ence I made it for, then I’m stoked. To me, that’s suc­cess.

I want them to rec­og­nize that it’s not a tantrum, and that there are thou­sands upon thou­sands of voice­less LGBT peo­ple within even just the Mor­mon com­mu­nity who feel like they can’t ask ques­tions and can’t have doubts and can’t be them­selves. I want to be able to give a mi­cro­phone to those peo­ple.

You’re send­ing a lot of mes­sages to a lot of peo­ple with this al­bum. But what mes­sage do you hope to send to Mor­mons who’ve con­demned you and other LGBT peo­ple?

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