While it’s no secret that LGBTQ fans saw their struggle reflected in Spears’ particularly rough mid-career slump, followed by her phoenix-like rise back to the top of the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 charts (with 2008’s Circus and its lead single “Womanizer,” respectively) — it’s really her outstanding advocacy for the community that earned her this award.
“She is a force in the music world who has used her global platform to share messages of love and acceptance, something that the world needs today more than ever,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD.
Here are seven times Britney expressed solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
She showed love for Brazil
Last November, Spears was among the A-listers that appeared in Brazilian singer/songwriter Yann’s music video for “Igual.” The song, which talks about freedom of love, is a manifesto about violence against LGBTQ people in Brazil. The video also included submissions from Céline Dion, Demi Lovato, Lorde, Diplo and The Chainsmokers, and all proceeds were donated to Grupo Arco-íris, an organization that helps the LGBTQ community.
She shared a secret with us
Last June, Spears was one of several stars that appeared in Billboard’s viral Love Letters to the LGBTQ Community. The singer, who opted to make her note extra special by handwriting it, shared that the community’s unwavering loyalty and acceptance uplift and inspire her. “I have a secret to share with you. You see it’s actually you that lifts me up. The unwavering loyalty. The lack of judgment. The unapologetic truth. Acceptance! Your stories are what inspire me, bring me joy, and make me and my sons strive to be better people.”
She stood with transgender youth
In 2017, Spears joined 140 celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Laverne Cox in signing an open letter against two anti-LGBTQ bills, which targeted transgender youth in Texas. The bills were later defeated.
She joined hands with Orlando
After the 2016 massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, Spears teamed up with P!nk, RuPaul, Gwen Stefani, Selena Gomez and several other artists to release a musical tribute titled “Hands.” Written by Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels and BloodPop, the track benefited Equality Florida, the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida and GLAAD.
She brought fans together
A gay couple who met at the opening of Spears’ Las Vegas residency got married at the place they met. The pop icon toasted the couple in a congratulatory video, saying, “I’m honored to be a part of your love story. Congratulations and all the best for an amazing life together.” Spears even signed the happy couple’s marriage license during a meet-and-greet before her performance.
She showed her spirit
In 2015, Spears participated in GLAAD’s Spirit Day by releasing a video promoting participation in the anti-bullying campaign. She also organized a meet-and-greet for LGBTQ fans, washed her Planet Hollywood stage in purple at her Vegas residency, and provided anti-bullying materials to concertgoers.
She reached out to a suicidal fan
In 2014, the singer penned a letter to a young gay man who considered suicide. The troubled teen credited her music and lyrics with giving him the courage to come out and be true to himself. She wrote to him: “I was very happy to hear how courageous you’ve been about being openly gay. I’ve always been told as long as you know in your heart that’s what matters most.”
For more stories about the LGBTQ community and our fiercest allies, follow Billboard Pride on Facebook.
More LGBTQ Icons & Allies: Ariana Grande | Lady Gaga | Madonna | Miley Cyrus | Lana Del Rey | Rihanna | Beyoncé | Kelly Clarkson | Fifth Harmony | Katy Perry | P!nk | Diana Ross | Christina Aguilera | Stevie Nicks