Imagine traveling the world for more than half of your life. You meet kids, teenagers and adults who are screaming your name at the top of their lungs.
They love you. They adore you. They idolize you. They respect you.
Many of them have grown up with you. They’ve seen your struggles (the ones that have hit the headlines, at least) and you’ve been “with” them through their life struggles through your music. You’ve always been there to give them light and something to look forward to when, at times, maybe they didn’t feel validated.
Sure, these fans have differences between them — they’re human. But, when you perform for them, all of those differences are left out the venue doors. They come together for the love and the break from the world’s problems because of you and your four brothers.
You’ve given them this safe space with you no matter their background, race, ethnicity, age, social class, disability, gender, or sexual orientation.
You have been there to give them their safest place to hide — for 27 years.
Now, I want you to switch roles + put yourself in that person’s shoes — the fan that has adored this boyband for potentially the majority of their life (note the links):
Imagine being this fan and someone in that band you LOVE announcing two days after a domestic terrorist attack on The Capitol that he is in support of a platform that allows for this hateful rhetoric to be spread without consequence.
The fan that read the obvious hate, racism, and blatant homophobia from this band member’s wife on social media. And, while these specific examples are not from a member of the band they have loved for 20+ years, for a member to be married to someone who does hold these extreme hateful beliefs does, in fact, mean they’re supportive of this rhetoric. Silence is compliance.
If you’re a fan that identifies with any one of these statements above, or your own personal story, you know how it feels to be dismissed by someone when you’re just trying to express why a specific comment, tweet or statement hurts you deeply. Even more so when it comes from a person or place, like this fandom, that you used to find as that safe place to hide.
The issue here is NOT as simple as Democrat vs. Republican. The issue here is NOT as simple as the results of the 2020 Election. The issue here is NOT as simple as convincing someone the pandemic isn’t fake. The issue here is NOT as simple as throwing an “but everyone’s lives matter” or a blanketed “we love everyone no matter what”.
The issue here is truly about the lack of love, inclusivity, decency and kindness for the real humans in the fandom that have supported you for 27+ years — no matter your political affiliation.
Associating yourself with people and platforms that participate in the hateful behavior and rhetoric is what is causing such a rift in the fandom. It’s what is now causing fans to give up their tickets to the (postponed) tour and ask for refunds from Ticketmaster. It is literally costing you money, if you need a very simplistic and materialistic way of understanding it.
I wish I did have the answer. I’m conflicted myself. I’m a diehard Backstreet Boys fan — meet & greets and all. Until this last summer, my favorite Backstreet Boy was Brian. Hell, I even have the limited edition throwback t-shirt of him hanging in the back of my closet. I’m a co-host on a livestream where we talk about the boys constantly, and now, at least short-term, I feel like there will be this elephant (no political pun intended) in the room.
I also have no reason not to support the other four incredibly talented members of the band that I’ve loved since I was 9 years old.
My best advice? Be kind. If someone chooses to continue to support the Backstreet Boys, even if you don’t agree, don’t be hateful towards them. If someone chooses to abandon the BSB ship and move along, understand that they have valid reasons to do so.
We’re not living anywhere near normal right now. Just this last week alone, we had a record number of deaths due to a worldwide pandemic AND a domestic terrorism attack on our country. So, excuse me if I’m a little sensitive to the word “Parler” right now or my former favorite BSB joining it. 😉