SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (ABC4 News) — Nearly a month has passed since crowds filled West Valley City’s USANA amphitheater to see artists like Kesha perform at the 2019 LoveLoud Music Festival.
LoveLoud was founded by Imagine Dragons singer, Dan Reynolds, to increase acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth in Utah. Proceeds from the festival are donated as grant money to participating LGBTQ+ organizations.
Encircle is one of the several local LGBTQ+ organization to benefit from grant money earned from the festival.
In Utah, LGBTQ+ youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, and 42 percent of all homeless youth are LGBTQ+, according to Stephanie Larsen, CEO of Encircle.
“These are saddening numbers that we can change,” Larsen said.
And Encircle aims to do just that. As an LGBTQ+ family and youth resource center, it provides various programs, therapy, and opportunities for youth to build friendships with those who share their sexual orientation.
According to Larsen, Encircle used the grant money to keep these programs going, to keep the house running, and to keep the fridge full of food.
“Encircle wouldn’t be what it is today with LoveLoud,” she said.
Despite the statistics above, Larsen said that LGBTQ+ youth are not naturally more prone to mental health issues than their straight counterparts. Rather, mental health issues arise as a result of the rejection, isolation, and loneliness they may experience in their communities.
“We do know that LGBTQ+ youth who are loved and supported by their families are eight times less likely to commit suicide,” Larsen said. “They are three times less likely to have problems with drugs and alcohol.”
Larsen is grateful for LoveLoud’s message and aims to inspire change in the community.
“I do think that Lov Loud has done an incredible job of trying to change the conversations in conservative communities,” Larsen said. “I think that they are trying very hard to sustain LGBTQ+ organizations and to help provide some money that they need to fulfill their missions… I’m just extremely grateful for all the service.”
Click here to learn more about Encircle and the services they offer. To reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, call 1-800-273-8255.
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