Framing Britney Spears: Conservatorships and Closets

The Free Britney campaign is an international effort to free pop icon Britney Spears, from her conservatorship. Free Britney advocates and we at GaySays argue that the singer should control her career and personal life. Free Britney also provides a platform for supporters to share their messages of support for the artist on social media. Supporters have even taken it upon themselves to release music videos, perform concerts, offer counseling services, or send cards to show their appreciation for all she has done as an ally and supporter of LGBT+ people worldwide. Conspiracy theories are abound, particularly relating to Jamie Spears, Lynne Spears, and her managers. The central fact of the matter is that a woman has had her civil liberties stripped away, her personal affairs mandated by court, and irreparable harm done to Ms. Spears herself.

Britney’s Meteoric Rise As A Gay Icon

Britney Spears is an icon to the LGBT+ community for several reasons. First off, she was one of the first mainstream celebrities to openly support gay rights and same-sex marriage when it wasn’t popular or accepted in America. As recently as 2017, she wrote a handwritten love letter to the LGBTQ community as part of Billboard Pride, which discussed her unwavering loyalty and appreciation for the community.

She had one of the first openly lesbian kisses on stage. The pop princess’ lip-locking with the queen of pop Madonna made headlines worldwide in 2003. Later in 2016, she advocated for support and change in the wake of the awful Pulse gay club shooting. She also signed an open letter against the proposal of anti-trans bills in Texas, making her one of the most crucial LGBTQ icons & allies.

Entertainment Industry Exploitation

Britney Spears’ virginal image as a Catholic schoolgirl and later transformation into a sex kitten during her relationship with Justin Timberlake represents gay people discovering their sexualities for the first time. The way the press vilified her for doing so is not dissimilar to reactions to gay representation in the media. While she was declaring to be a “Slave 4U” in pop music, gay men were fighting for their right to serve in the army as who they are.

It is not difficult to see how the press reaction to the pop star’s much-publicized 2007 breakdown was similar to comments about gay individuals. Comments on her “lewd” behavior could be found next to articles decrying gay marriage as the work of the devil. Britney’s breakdown, the result of extreme pressure and substantial detriment to her freedom, is not a million miles away from the experience of coming out and escaping the confines of the closet.

Free Britney Spears Like She Freed Us

We are Britney, we were her then, and she is us now. When the Free Britney campaign was launched in 2007 to support Spears during her public breakdown and later conservatorship, it became a rallying call for gay men who had been pushing against their cage door for decades. Reading articles about the Free Britney campaign, there is an overwhelming sense of recognition amongst many gay individuals. Britney Spears’s temporary conservatorship is not a million miles away from the restrictions that we face as gay individuals in a heterosexual world.

With the release of the documentary “Framing Britney Spears” earlier this year, the issues of Spears and her conservatorship were launched back into the spotlight. Many celebrities came out in support of Spears, including pop singer Miley Cyrus.

Free Britney carries the same meaning to Free Queer, Free Lesbian, and Free Gay. Under the control of rich, heterosexual males, we are put to our knees and forced to comply with the status quo. Britney is forced to perform; gay individuals are forced to play the role of heterosexual in a world where we are misunderstood and “don’t wanna be so protected”. Conspiracy theorists argue that she was forced into a psychiatric ward in a mental health facility in Beverly Hills by her father, Jamie Spears. This is not too dissimilar from gay conversion therapy and the mental health struggles that so many of us are afflicted with.

People who are gay need to be free of the barriers imposed on them by society to live happy lives. This includes being able to marry whomever they want and not feeling like they have a stigma placed upon their backs at all times. Like Britney, we think about the lack of autonomy over our own lives and feel the pressure of society on us. We may have control over own financial affairs, but we have no autonomy over the exploitation and degradation of our personal affairs.

In the words of Britney herself – “people can take everything away from you/But they can never take away your truth.” No longer can we sit and ask if the world “can handle” ours. Whatever the conspiracy theories say, there’s one thing that we can all agree on. It’s time that Britney herself, and gay individuals, are allowed to live their unapologetic truth in a way that frees them from the shackles of the closet and conservatorship.

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