Written By: Taylor Anderson
Edited By: Brynne-Eva Zeff
Everything that is shared in this article is 100% directly from the social media pages of Leighanne Littrell herself. Nothing has been modified or edited from its original content.
If you, like me, are a huge Backstreet Boys fan, then you probably follow the all of the guys on social media. You’ve more than likely joined a fan page group online here or there over the years, as well. Within the last few months however, I’m sure that you have also seen that whenever someone posts or shares anything about band member Brian Littrell, that there has been a backlash of angry reactions, pages of unsavory comments, and some pretty irritated fans. If you are unfamiliar with what’s been going on within the fanbase recently, you may have been scratching your head and wondering what this has all been about. Well, I’m here to break it all down for you post by post.
Considering the fact that the Backstreet Boys have been a group for almost 30 years now, they are certainly no strangers to tabloids, rumors and controversies. Yes, I’m mostly looking at you, Nick. But, you probably wouldn’t believe that currently, the most controversial “member” of the Backstreet Boys isn’t even one of boys at all. It’s actually one of their wives. Brian’s wife Leighanne, specifically. Brian and Leighanne celebrated two decades of marriage together just last month, and they also share an almost 18 year-old son named Baylee. If you have attended any kind of Backstreet Boys event over the years, chances are that you have seen Leighanne around in some capacity. During an event for her (now defunct) self-owned and run company named Wylee, hanging out while Baylee opens for the guys on tour or on stage every night during the BSB cruises. Leighanne has become a staple in the Backstreet Boys fandom more so than any other wife, and honestly, to know Brian, is to know Leighanne. She has made a very heavy presence for herself over the years within the fanbase, and because of this, the recent negative social media comments and posts made by her have been extremely damaging and hurtful to the Backstreet Boys brand as a whole.
Controversy for the Littrell’s really started around four years ago during the 2016 Presidential Election, when Donald Trump was first voted into office as the President of the United States of America. Brian was filmed on the popular tabloid gossip channel TMZ saying that we all “needed to support our new president” because he was now the one “in charge”. Some people did not agree with that statement, and from then on, it seemed like the fandom started to divide. The Republicans looked to identify with Brian, the Democrats seemed to connect more with Kevin and AJ, and Nick and Howie chose to mostly stay quiet on the situation entirely. Fast forward to 2020, and the whole world was now on lockdown because of a new, and very scary, global pandemic that was sweeping the world, called the Coronavirus. For months, the numbers of people getting ill and dying skyrocketed with no end in sight. We were also experiencing an extremely important and radical racially-motivated movement called Black Lives Matter, where protests, riots and violence were filling the streets of many cities, states and countries for days, weeks and months on end. On top of everything, arguably the biggest presidential election in all of our lifetime’s was also taking place. With everyone’s emotions so unbelievably heightened and raw, social media ended up being a platform for a lot of people to feel comfortable to let out their feelings that they didn’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing otherwise. Unfortunately, Leighanne Littrell chose to utilize HER social media as a breeding ground for hate. As the year went on, her posts began to get darker, more upsetting, and completely and utterly inappropriate. She shared things that were terribly racist, homophobic and transphobic. She even unbelievably posted that she felt that the pandemic that is killing HUNDREDS of people a day is not actually occurring at all.
Before I go any further, I ask that you review the content that I am about to share in it’s collective, and judge for yourself on the intent behind it. While reading, I’m going to ask you to do three very hard things. First, try to remove how you feel about the person you met/know if you have ever had any kind of personal relationship with Leighanne over the years. Next, do your best to also disconnect the feelings you have about Brian, the boyband member that you’ve loved since you’ve been a child/teenager. And lastly, try your hardest to pretend to eliminate the love you have for the group that holds your heart so dearly; The Backstreet Boys. All of this is MOMENTARILY, of course. For the rest of this article, at least. I also inquire that you all read this with an open mind.
Please also note that I did not include any of Leighanne’s posts that were political in nature. I truly believe that the issue at hand has nothing to do with anyone’s chosen political party, and that it is the prejudice and hate that she’s been posting that is really the problem.
Comments about the LGBTQIA+ community
In this first post, Leighanne seems to agree with the photo shown, that by some men no longer dressing as they once did in older times, that “something went terribly wrong”. The article on the bottom left that she shared says that we should be “celebrating the people who keep the human race alive” on “Heterosexual Pride Day”. Featured on the bottom right is a transgender couple who announces that they will be having a baby. Leighanne forwards this article and claims that this is quote, “the end of times.”
Comments about Muslims
While Christianity is indeed the leading religion in America, it is obviously NOT the only religious group made up of American citizens. Around 3.45 million Americans identify as Muslim, which is 1.1% of the American population. Muslims that are citizens of the United States are Americans, period.
Comments about illegal immigration
Comments about the Black Lives Matter Movement
To keep things in prospective before you take a look at these particular posts, I wanted to share some statistics with you. Between 2013 and 2019, it has been reported that 1,000 people were killed by excessive force by the police, and out of those people, a third of them were African American. In regards to the Black Lives Matters protests this year alone, reports show that 25 Americans died during the political unrest. Below is what Leighanne has personally posted about the BLM Movement.
Comments about racism
Comments about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks
The following posts are about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks. These names became synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement this year after all three of these individuals were unfortunately brutally murdered just for being African American. The below photos suggest that because these people had a criminal record/past, that their deaths have somehow been justified because of that. In addition, the video clip that Leighanne posted in the middle is not even the same George Floyd in question. That is a completely different person, which has no relevance in this issue at all. However, it DOES further push the “black men in court/jail” narrative.
Comments about COVID-19 being a hoax
Where the belief is coming from that Covid-19 is a hoax, I could not even remotely begin to tell you. But it is real. It’s very, VERY real. And it’s also very, VERY dangerous. 55 million cases have been reported worldwide. In the United States alone, there are 11.3 million cases reported, and there have been 247,000 deaths from complications directly related to the virus. These numbers are continuing to rise BY THE DAY. Brian actually caught the Swine Flu back in 2009, and unfortunately, he never fully recovered. It is part of the reason why he struggles to this day with his vocal issues, sadly. The larger reason why his voice has suffered over the recent years is because he has something called Vocal Tension Dysphonia. It is a voice disorder that occurs when the muscles around the larynx are so tight during speaking, and in Brian’s case, singing, that your voice box does not work efficiently. He also had open heart surgery back in 1998, where the doctors repaired a hole in his heart. He easily could have died. All of these medical issues combined make him extremely susceptible to getting ill with Covid. This is better known as being “immunocompromised”. Not only that, but Baylee was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease when he was just a little boy. It is a condition that causes inflammation in the walls of some blood vessels in the body, and it is very rare. This means that Baylee is ALSO considered to be immunocompromised, and he too could get very sick if he were to happen to get the Coronavirus. Yet, in the pictures below, the entire Littrell family are taking photos with people in public without the proper face coverings on, and without any social distancing happening, either. And just as an FYI, per the Center For Disease Control Guidelines, face masks should be worn by all people over the ages of two and up to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
Comments about Kamala Harris
Baylee’s Live Performances
On September 12th, 2020, Baylee played a show at a venue called Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta, Georgia. Brynne tweeted Baylee a few days before the event to ask how Covid precautions would be handled there, and this is what he said:
Sadly, none of that actually occurred. The show also included meet and greets with all three members of the Littrell family, and like the photos I shared above showing this family out and about having fun like a pandemic wasn’t occurring, pictures from Baylee’s event began circulating online by fans that attended that only further confirmed that what he said would happen to keep everyone safe, did not. The venue itself didn’t even enforce temperature checks. After the concert, it was reported that 3-5 fans in attendance had confirmed that they had unfortunately gotten Covid-19. While I cannot, and will not, disclose the names of these people to protect their privacy, they DID test positive for the virus a couple days/weeks after attending the show, when all of them were completely fine beforehand. Leighanne IS aware of this all, and she regrettably continues to deny the claim that these fans got ill at her event. All of these fans are luckily fine now, by the way, save for one, who is still recovering.
As a quick reminder, again, per the CDC guidelines, the risk of getting and spreading Covid-19 at events is as follows:
The proper protocol when people test positive for the Coronavirus is to inform others that have been around you, so that they can get tested as well, to obviously avoid further spread of the disease. In this instance, unsurprisingly, that did not occur. Furthermore, the Littrell’s have now decided to have ANOTHER show that will be held next month, on December 12th, at the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. This has caused a secondary massive outrage in the Backstreet Boys fandom, as many fans feel that this family is not taking this pandemic seriously once again.
Disregard for the fans and their concerns
Fans have been publicly sharing their opinions, feelings and concerns for several months now regarding both of Baylee’s events, and about all of Leighanne’s social media posts. It has either fallen on deaf ears, or it has been met with dismissive, and shockingly, even downright rude responses from all members of the Littrell family. I put together just SOME of these replies below.
The first clip is a video from Leighanne’s public Instagram. She put this up back in July, when the fanbase first started to become very vocal about her derogatory posts. In the row below that are screenshots from a post on Baylee’s public Instagram. He posted about his upcoming show happening in December, and a fan rose some concern over it. These photos are the exchange between Baylee, that fan, and a Covid-19 denier all going back and forth about this. The group of screenshots below that are from back in August when Brian posted a photo of Leighanne’s butt, and he tagged her and Baylee in it. A lot of people found this extremely inappropriate, and said so, only to surprisingly see completely out of character commentary from Brian in response. Finally, the last two pictures below that are of Leighanne’s responses to the fans speaking out about the upcoming show, and suggesting that it could be virtual instead to ensure the safety of everyone running the event, and of the people wishing to attend it. Apparently, in her mind, all of those people are “haters”, because they don’t agree with the choices she’s been making lately.
As I stated above, since July of this year, there has been extreme outrage from the Backstreet Boys fandom directed towards the entire Littrell family, but mainly towards Leighanne herself. Fans have demanded apologies, they’ve written letters to either Brian, Leighanne, or both of them directly, they’ve requested open forums of respectful conversation, and I myself have even broadcasted a public podcast confronting the issue head on. People have also written e-mails and tweets sharing their feelings, and directed it towards the Littrell’s, the rest of Backstreet Boys, and various members of their staff and management, pleading for some kind of acknowledgment that their concerns are being heard. Hoping that something is going to be done about it. But, there’s just been radio silence. Nothing has come from anyone, in any capacity. None of the other Backstreet Boys have said a word, management hasn’t made a peep, and Brian hasn’t come out to say that he’s appalled at his wife’s actions. So sadly, the lack of responses from all parties has caused some fans to want to step back from the Backstreet world either partly, or even entirely. They’ve sold their 2021 DNA World Tour concert tickets, they’ve left Facebook fan groups, fandom friendships have ended, and some people have even gone so far as claiming that they will no longer recognize Brian as a member of The Backstreet Boys, and that the other four members of the group will be the only ones that they will associate with from now on because of Brian’s (unspoken) apparent chosen “silence is compliance” stance.
Below is just a very small example of the kind of tweets that fans have been sending out in the midst of this whirlwind:
I want to be very clear here, as I can only speak for myself (Taylor). I have no actual hatred for the Littrell family. My personal feelings stem from extreme disappointment and frustration. The black people whom I fight for? Those are my children. My four year-old son, and my two year-old daughter. The transgendered pregnant couple Leighanne sees as “the end of times”? That’s my best friend. (The transgendered part. Not the pregnant part.) The people impacted by the Coronavirus? Those people are my two uncles, my mom, my stepdad, my aunt, and worst of all, my friend from high school who died a few months ago after successfully beating Leukemia in 2019. These people Leighanne dismisses and judges are not just pictures in a post, or random people on the internet that have no meaning and no backstory. They’re human beings with family and friends, who leave people behind that loved them after they’re shot 15 times in their own home just for being black. What happens to the loved ones of the people who die alone on a stretcher in the hallway of an over-packed Covid ward of a hospital, or in a cage at the border with a tinfoil blanket as the only thing to keep them warm while they’ve been separated from their small children for months on end? Who’s there to hold up the mothers and fathers as they get the call that their kid was gay bashed to death just because they dared to hold hands with their partner in public and finally felt brave enough to live in their truth? These are real human beings that we know and care about. These are our children, our family members, our friends, and ourselves, and no one gets to decide that any of that isn’t okay. NO ONE.
Where do we go from here?
In a perfect scenario, at this point, the Littrell family would be posting a public statement acknowledging that what Leighanne has been posting for months now has been beyond offensive. That she will learn to do better in the future. That she is extremely sorry for offending so many people, and that she will no longer be posting and sharing content that is deemed hateful/racist/homophobic, etc… The Backstreet Boys as a group would then also publicly post THEIR sincerest apologies that this has happened. They would say how sorry they were that they allowed it all to go on for so long, and without comment, no less, and that they too in no way, shape or form meant to offend any of their fans. This is obviously the preferred solution, and I am sadly fully aware that none of this will ever happen.
None of this will occur because Leighanne genuinely doesn’t believe that anything that she has been saying is wrong. Nor is it likely that Brian is going to acknowledge any of this either, because he is deeply loyal to his family-sometimes to a fault. And by speaking out against his wife, he probably believes that this would be a form of betrayal, and we’ve all been fans long enough to know that betrayal is something that Brian would never engage in. Especially when it comes to Leighanne. It is clear that Kevin, Nick, AJ and Howie are currently stuck in an incredibly difficult position as well, because by them speaking out against Brian and/or Leighanne, not only would this be backstabbing THEIR family, as well, but this would also only further fuel the fire of the divide currently in the fandom. This entire situation is truly awful on a multitude of levels.
Honestly, though? THIS is the problem. THIS is heart of the matter. Why are we pacifying Leighanne’s feelings? Or Brian’s feelings? Why is no one standing up for US? The dedicated fans, who for DECADES now have literally forked out hundreds and thousands of our hard-earned dollars to these guys, and have dedicated years and years of our lives to them because they mean so much to us? Why do they all get to skirt around Leighanne’s behavior when so many of us identify as the groups of people that she is so offensively targeting? Why don’t our feelings matter if we have been told time and time again that without us, the Backstreet Boys wouldn’t still be here as a group? The BSB fanbase does not only just consist of white, conservative, heterosexual, Christian Americans. And all of the people Leighanne offended-fans and non-fans alike-need to be recognized and apologized to. If all lives truly DO matter, like Leighanne claims, then she should act like it, and make some changes before it’s too late, and she ruins what these five men mean to all of us forever.