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Interview: LGBTQ Youth and Loving Loudly with Tegan and Sara

The LoveLoud Festival is coming up quickly; on Saturday, July 28, in fact. Aside from founder Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, indie pop duo Tegan and Sara have played a prominent role in bringing the festival’s mission to mainstream attention, both in their independent nonprofit, the Tegan and Sara Foundation, and as one of the most prominent LGBTQ figures in popular culture.

I spoke with Tegan as the sisters prepare for this year’s LoveLoud, to take place at the Rice Eccles Stadium, about the impetus for their Foundation and their part in the genesis of the festival. Looking at the roster, this is shaping up to be a landmark festival in the pool of many going on in SLC this summer.

Charissa: What changes have you observed within the music industry in terms of the acceptance of LGBTQ youth throughout the years of your career?

Tegan: I think the first half of our career we were relegated to the alternative category or the underground because we were gay. And now I think as a gay artist you can absolutely be considered mainstream. And I think that’s likely due to the marriage equality movement and the slow erosion of the binary by the youth (GEN Z). LGBTQ people have gone Mainstream (Ellen, Troye Sivan, Hayley Kiyoko) in this way that now as a gay artist you aren’t automatically filed into a sub category. It still happens. But not as easily and not as often and I think that’s probably the biggest change we’ve felt in twenty years. We can absolutely be mainstream now. It’s a choice. That wasn’t really possible twenty years ago.

Charissa: Tell me a bit about how the Tegan and Sara Foundation came to be.

Tegan: It’s been a big part of our long-term planning to imagine a time when we could use our platform for more than just selling our music or sharing our stories. The idea that we could help and give back to the LGBTQ community was something percolating for a long time. We both just see it as a great privilege to be where we are and we wanted to ensure we used that privilege to invest back in the community we come from.

Charissa: How did you and Dan come together to collaborate on the LoveLoud Festival?

Tegan: Dan asked Sara and I to play this year, unfortunately we are on a musical hiatus and focused on some other creative projects, taking some much-needed time off the road etc so we said no. BUT Dan and I got on the phone a few days in a row over a week-long period and he explained the vision and thought and passion behind Love Loud and I just thought – we should be involved with this. We should help.

Charissa: What was it like working with him?

Tegan: It’s not lip service to say that I am just so unbelievably impressed by the tenacity and passion that Dan brings to Love Loud. He’s a true ally. He is a significant force of good and I think his empathy and thoughtfulness combined with his heart around LGBTQ issues and his community are truly one of a kind. Not everyone in his position would do what he is doing. I think we will look back at the conversation he is creating a place for between the different communities in Utah and see how this truly affected change.

Charissa: How do you think your foundation and LoveLoud, respectively, complement each other in their missions?

Tegan: I think we both fund programs and organizations that invest back in giving LGBTQ people tools that will help them flourish. I think we both set out to create spaces or spark conversations that center love and acceptance for LGBTQ people.

To learn more about the LoveLoud Festival and buy tickets to the event, go here.

Charissa Che :Charissa Che hails from NYC and has been a journalist for over 12 years. She is a regular music contributor for Salt Lake Magazine. Additionally, she is a PhD candidate in Writing & Rhetoric at the University of Utah. She prides herself on following the best cat accounts on Instagram. Calicos preferred.