Tyler Glenn just wants to be happy.
It wasn’t until Tyler Glenn was approaching his 30th birthday late last year that he realized the importance of coming out. Inspired by a marathon of LGBT-themed documentaries—such as We Were Here and The Times of Harvey Milk—the Neon Trees front man knew that it was time to live the truth of his own message to his fans: It’s OK to be yourself.
“The fear surrounding coming out went away,” Glenn, who grew up Mormon, explains. “It was just as simple as saying this is what I want and I want to be happy.”
In a matter of six months, he went from telling his producer and songwriting partner Tim Pagnotta that he’s the gay man mentioned in several new songs on the band’s upcoming album, Pop Psychology, to coming out to the world via a Rolling Stone interview. And the overall reception has been positive. Glenn says that Neon Trees hasn’t lost a single fan and even received vocal support from active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
“I never really associated being gay with happy thoughts. It was always something I always had to hide,” Glenn says. So when he came out to Pagnotta, he was relieved. “When I heard this loving congratulations, it flipped my world around.”
Now that the pressure is off Glenn, he is living more freely. He hasn’t hid the fact that there are songs about being gay on the new album, but he also admits that one of his past songs, “Teenage Sounds,” has a gay message as well.
When he was first interviewed in 2012 about the lyric, "I'm sick of being called a fag because I'm queer," Glenn said it was written for people who are different. (“It’s how certain people have come to think of gay.”) But now he says that he listens to the song differently.
“I was sick of being called that word because of assumptions. It wasn't that I was being called a fag because I was seen having gay sex. I was being called a fag because I was wearing tight pants and looked a certain way,” he says. “If I had been in a more confident spot I definitely would have addressed it.”
The 2013 version of the singer is definitely more confident about who he is. He admits to finding masculine men attractive (“I think Morrissey is sexy”) and opens up about the trials of dating online now that he’s come out. “I deleted the apps that I had on my phone because people probably know a little bit more about who I am, and I don't want nudes leaking,” he says, laughing.
As for which app he used: “I’m a Growlr guy! But I don't want to have the perception that I'm a chaser. Who knows, I guess I won't worry about it too much.”
While he doesn’t feel pressured to take a stance on certain gay rights, it’s something he wants to eventually do. “I do want to choose, at the appropriate times, to be a public supporter of LGBT issues,” he says knowing that there’s still ground to be covered when it comes to changing the perception of the Mormon Church. “I feel like I do have a fresh perspective.”
But the first issue he wants to address is Adam Lambert, whom he failed to mention in the Rolling Stone interview when he complained the industry didn’t have an out musician to balance out the success of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
“I didn't want him to think I was leaving him out. I'll use Out.com to say that I enjoy him,” Glenn says.