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GLAAD Vanguard Award Winner For Promotion Of LGBTQ+ Equality

The lights go down, the crowd goes wild… and Britney Spears takes to the stage for her crowning headline performance at Brighton & Hove Pride 2018.

An indisputable queen of pop, Britney looks set to deliver a knock-out live show at this year’s Brighton & Hove Pride – but there’s another reason that the Pride team were so excited to announce the Oops!…. I Did It Again singer as this year’s headline act.

That’s because away from the stage, the multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning Ms Spears has been grafting away in her role as a dedicated champion of LGBTQ+ rights. From singing on a star-studded fundraising single in the wake of last year’s tragic Orlando club shooting to taking time to write to a fan who had considered suicide to congratulate him on coming out, Britney has never hidden her pride when it comes to showing love for her LGBTQ+ fans.

And earlier this year, Britney’s hard work was rewarded when she received the prestigious Vanguard Award at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles.

As a recipient of a GLAAD Vanguard Award, Britney joins an impressive host of previous A-list winners  – Jennifer Lopez, Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, Drew Barrymore and Janet Jackson, who have all won the award for their contribution to the fight for LGBTQ+ equality.

After hearing the news, Britney wrote on Instagram: ‘Honored to be receiving the Vanguard Award at the @GLAAD Media Awards this year! The LGBTQ+ community means the absolute world to me and inspires me every day. I am proud to be an ally and I will continue to support equality and acceptance for all!!’

For over thirty years, GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has worked to stamp out homophobia and transphobia in the American media. The prestigious Vanguard Award is presented each year to a media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance of LGBTQ+ people.

In recent years, Britney has really put the work in. Her achievements as an LGBTQ+ campaigner have been numerous. She has consistently stood up for LGBTQ+ youth, using her social media channels to speak out against homophobic bullying. She was one of over 20 music artists to appear on the GLAAD song ‘Hands’, recorded and released in memory of the 29 people who lost their lives when a gunman opened fire at the Orlando Pulse nightclub.

Last year – along with 139 other leading entertainers including Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, Laverne Cox and Whoopi Goldberg – Britney put her name to an open letter condemning two anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the United States targeted at transgender youth in Texas. Both bills were defeated.

Alongside these campaigns, Britney has continued to reach out on a personal level to her LGBTQ+ fans. In 2014, Spears wrote a highly publicised letter to a young fan who had considered suicide and who had credited her lyrics with giving him the courage to come out as a gay man. The letter said: “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.”

Spears turned to the page yet again last year for LGBTQ+ Pride month, penning a heartfelt, handwritten love letter to all of her LGBTQ+ fans in which she shared her thanks for the unconditional love and acceptance that the community has shown her over the years.

“I have a secret to share with you,” she wrote. “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.”

The ‘Gimme More’ singer isn’t the only big name to be recognised in this year’s GLAAD awards. The organisation announced over 140 nominees across 40 different categories in January – including Miley Cyrus, Halsey, Kesha, Sam Smith and St Vincent – who are all up for Outstanding Music Artist. The organisers also gave a special recognition award to Jay-Z’s song ‘Smile’, the accompanying video for which shows the rapper’s mother Gloria Carter coming out as a lesbian.

Announcing that Britney would be the recipient of this year’s award, Sarah Kate Ellis, the President and CEO of GLAAD, said: “An irrefutable icon, Britney Spears has entertained the world while also embodying the spirit of GLAAD’s Vanguard Award by speaking out on significant issues that face her fans – from the Dream Act to anti-transgender bills in Texas.

“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.”

Britney Spears is the headline artist at the Brighton & Hove Pride Festival on Saturday 4th August in Preston Park.