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Before "Free Britney" Went Mainstream, Britney Spears' Queer Fans Had Her Back

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Note: This post contains mentions of suicide.A woman holds a poster of Britney Spears with her mouth taped shut as fans and supporters gather outside the Los Angeles County Courthouse in 2021.For most of Britney Spears' 13-year conservatorship, almost no one was saying "Free Britney."Until a couple years ago, the common line of thinking was that placing the pop icon under a conservatorship in 2008 saved not only her career, but also her life.

Only Spears' most devoted fans (or "stans") rang the alarm that perhaps she was being exploited, discussing the possibility in online forums between debates about the hidden gems in Spears' consequential discography (my two cents: 2011's "How I Roll" is fizzy perfection).In 2020, though, something shifted.

The hashtag #FreeBritney started making regular appearances in Twitter's trending column, explainer videos suggesting she was a prisoner in her own life racked up millions of views on TikTok, and news media took notice.

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