Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn on life as a gay Mormon rock star

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Credit: Andrew Zaeh

Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn has never shied away from being himself onstage, but with the release of a new album, “Pop Psychology,” he decided it was time to open up a bit more about his private life. In April, he came out as gay via a Rolling Stone interview. And not only gay, but a gay Mormon, an unusual combination in pop culture. It capped a rough period in Glenn’s life, where he was having trouble keeping his cool onstage. With the help of a therapist and a supportive producer, Glenn decided he was ready to share the news in a big way.

Glenn actually only started coming out to people in his life at the tail end of the production process for “Pop Psychology.” After working with producer Tim Pagnotta on finishing the album, Pagnotta expressed some curiosity about what the new songs were about, and Glenn decided to share his secret. “I think his reaction inspired me to tell everyone else because he responded in such a loving, almost congratulatory way, which was really something I never put together with being gay,” says Glenn.

That said, he’s pleased to be a spokesman for equality who’s both gay and religious. “A lot of the time we see in the media, like, it’s either religion or it’s being gay and I think the two can live in the same sphere,” says Glenn.

Asked if he thinks it’s important to public figures to come out, Glenn replies honestly, “I used to not. I get people doing it on their own time, in their own way, and I don’t know everyone’s situation, but I do think it’s important.”

Of course, his news has “turned a lot of heads in Utah,” where Glenn lives, but he’s happy to be a role model on this front, despite some discomfort with the idea in the past. “I’m really glad that some people feel like they have a voice now, and … if that’s the role model I can be, then I’m comfortable with that,” says Glenn.

For those wondering if Glenn was trying to hide something on prior records, he says he thinks the older songs are honest representations of who he was at the time. For the song “Teenage Sounds” off the band’s second record, “Picture Show,” a lyric like “I’m sick of being called a fag because I’m queer” once reflected people’s reaction to his flamboyant style of dress. “Now that means more to me, obviously, and I think it means more to people,” says Glenn.


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