It's Prideney, bitch!
Last Saturday - August 4th - Britney Spears headlined Brighton Pride, bringing her record-breaking 'Piece Of Me' show from Las Vegas to the south of the UK.
It was a huge coup for organisers - and was the first chance for Britney fans in the UK to grab a glance at their idol before she headed out for a handful of other UK dates this summer.
Revellers at Brighton's Preston Park saw full-throttle choreography, dazzling costume changes, and a hatful of hits spanning Britney's 20 years in the pop game.
Brighton Pride has steadily built a reputation as having one of the best line-ups of any UK Pride event. In past years, acts like Years & Years, Pet Shop Boys, and Carly Rae Jepsen have all topped the Brighton bill.
But Britney's star power eclipsed all previous headliners. Because of her global celebrity status, she might seem out of place amongst Brighton's seaside attractions and candyfloss. But for many LGBTQ fans, her booking made total sense.
It's no secret that many in the LGBTQ community are drawn to divas - strong, independent women.
From bursting onto the scene in a schoolgirl's outfit in the Baby One More Time video, to her iconic red catsuit in Oops! I Did It Again, and the racy, R&B-influenced Slave 4 U, Britney has always had a wow-factor that saw her power to the top of the pop pile, and set her firmly in the hearts of LGBTQ fans.
"Her star power was blinding, and everything she did - the iconic performances, publicity stunts, the music... the untouchable music - it was an intoxicating combination," said Jordan Miller, the founder of the Britney fan site Breathe Heavy, in a Vice interview.
On 2000 banger Stronger, she put forward a message of independence and resilience that has been threaded through gay anthems throughout the 20th century - from 'I Will Survive' to 'I Am What I Am'.
Her songs of innocence, experience and defiance carry a message that many pop fans can relate to, but might ring especially true for LGBTQ audiences, who can grow up feeling like they have to keep quiet about their sexuality.
And Britney has always made a point to show how much her LGBTQ fans mean to her. Last year, she wrote a love letter to the LGBTQ community for Billboard.
"Continuously throughout my career, you've always been so vocal about what a positive impact I've had on you -- that I've instilled joy, hope and love in you at times when there was none," she wrote.
"But I have a secret to share with you. You see, it's actually you that lifts me up. The unwavering loyalty. the lack of judgement. The unapologetic truth."
After her breakdown in 2007, LGBTQ fans were integral to supporting Britney through the personal - and very public - turmoil. With its throbbing dance beats and unapologetic sexuality, her comeback album Blackout was hailed by writer Alim Kheraj as "the perfect metaphor for any young gay kid learning to reject heteronormativity."
In 2016, Britney featured on Hands, alongside Pink and Selena Gomez, which raised money for the victims of the tragic shooting at Orlando's Pulse gay nightclub. She also has spoken out about anti-LGBTQ legislation in Texas.
And in April, Britney received the Vanguard Award from GLAAD - an American organisation that fights for the acceptance of all LGBTQ people - in recognition of her closeness to the LGBTQ community.
So Britney headlining Brighton Pride shouldn't have been a surprise - it's her small way of showing how much her LGBTQ fans mean to her. She's never been an outwardly political pop star, but her small gestures speak volumes to those fans.
After Brighton Pride, she's playing UK venues in London, as well as Scarborough and Blackpool. Northern towns where LGBTQ folk have built a vibrant scene and have fought hard for inclusivity. Britney's concerts will inevitably feel like an extra show of support for LGBTQ fans outside of London and the South East.So it's a salute to Britney from this LGBTQ fan. Long may she keep us unapologetically dancing till the world ends
Featured Image Credit: PA