This Man Will Be the First Openly Gay, Mormon Rock Star


"I had my crushes on guys throughout high school, but it was never an overwhelming thing until my 20s," Neon Trees' lead singer Tyler Glenn told Rolling Stone, officially coming out as gay in the magazine's latest edition. "Then I'd be dating girls and in love with my straight friend and it was the worst feeling in the world."

Glenn is the latest celebrity to come out publicly, talking candidly about his sexuality in an interview that'll hit the stands on Friday. 

Although the rocker said he'd been aware of his sexual orientation since high school, he had remained conflicted largely because of his religious Mormon upbringing. In fact, it wasn't until last year that Glenn started opening up to his close friends, according to the interview.

Many of the songs in Neon Trees' upcoming third LP, Pop Psychology, are written around Glenn's experiences as a closeted man. The single "Sleeping With a Friend," for example, is about getting with a straight man. 

Originally from San Diego, Glenn said the Neon Trees are based in Utah, a bastion of the Mormon faith that Glenn and his bandmates grew up in. Indeed, the Trees have a strong Mormon fan base, something Glenn doesn't take for granted. 

Although the Mormon religion has officially denounced homosexual behavior as sinful, more and more gay Mormons are beginning to come out of the shadows.

Ultimately, Glenn decided that keeping his secret was more of a burden than it was worth. Following in the footstpes of other celebrities who have been publicly embracing their sexuality lately, Glenn's announcement is his way of finally being true to his identity.

"I appreciated [out football star] Michael Sam was like, 'I want to be able to go to the movies and hold hands with my boyfriend,'" Glenn said. "Even hearing him say 'boyfriend,' I was just like, that's cool."

Plus, Glenn said he sees an opportunity to speak out not just as a Mormon rock star, but now as a gay one, too. 

"I've gotten tired of kind-of gay or straight people being pop culture's gay [spokespeople] – like Macklemore," he said. "It makes me wonder, 'Are we ready for an actual gay pop star and not just the safe straight guy saying it's OK?'"