OK, even though I have my favorites in the band, I try to treat all of them - and their significant others to a great extent - equally. That said, I have made a few tweets about Brian's political leanings since mine are different, but I've let a lot slide, sort of an implied "agree to disagree". He is probably the one with whom I've had the least interactions, so I have limited personal experience to draw my opinions, but I believe that the political differences between him and me are not insurmountable in and of themselves and are probably not a "deal breaker" for me.
And I am usually not one to rock the boat, but these are not normal times. I've tweeted support for #BLM
, and I have info in my profile. I do things in my personal life to get the message out.
But I cannot be true to the movement if I don't call out Leighanne's recent social media interactions.
Like many other fans, the Boys music and escapades have been my refuge against the "real world", and though the "real world" has intruded a few times, such as AJ's substance abuse issues, the Boys, and us fans, have come out stronger at the end.
However, I see no good outcome if Leighanne continues posting and sharing the media that she has been doing. It is hurtful to many fans who, like me, see the group as their refuge from the things going on in the world. The Boys have always said that the group's success would not be possible without the constant support of their fans. But Leighanne's messages, and her insistence on posting them, is a slap in the face to those same fans.
... and now, I will briefly break the 4th wall and share some things from my real world ...
My wife and I were co-workers, and we were good friends with another co-worker. He tended to be more conservative than us, (he and I were raised in the same faith but he clung to its beliefs more strongly and strictly than I did/do), but he was a decent person he did lots of community-service type activities in his spare time. He started dating a single mother who had some of emotional issues, not all of her own making. My wife and I and other friends commended him for not rejecting her just because of her situation, but we did caution him to make sure he had the strength and resolve to deal with her issues including providing a father-figure for her kids.
Despite all our misgivings they did marry, and her emotional condition worsened, in part because of health issues that started popping up (including possible post-partum depression aggravating her existing emotional issues). She was very opinionated, and became more so. It tested our friendship but we stayed friends with him because we became ~his~
emotional support. As I mentioned, he leaned conservative, but not extreme, and if he gave an improper opinion we called him out on it when we felt he going a little to far off the deep end (this was mostly pre-Obergefell
). We did suggest that he, if not both of them, should get counseling or therapy to deal with her issues, since they were becoming more apparent and were having a deeper impact on his well-being. He didn't follow-up, so we did our best and were his support, listening and offering advice (which he didn't follow up on).
My wife passed away, I moved back to my old neighborhood to be closer to my aging parents. He and I were still co-workers, and we maintained our friendship, though not as closely, and I did see him starting to pick up more of the current GOP narrative. His wife has gone ahead and "drunk the Kool-Aid", but he still had enough of his original decency not to go follow her lead. He has since left the company, and we text each other occasionally but I haven't kept up with his life as much as I used to.
*****... and now back to the fandom ...
I really got into the fandom in early 2000, not too long before Brian got married, so I didn't follow the details of their courtship as much I/we have done with AJ, Howie or Nick. As I mentioned, I've only met Brian and Leighanne only once briefly, little more than a quick "Hi!/Bye!". I haven't done any of the cruises and haven't traveled to his HHF events. Since I don't have much personal observations of Leighanne, I can only go by what others have posted, and what I have read seems eerily similar to the situation of my friend and his wife.
I'm not a psychologist, nor do I play one on the Internet; but my 2 cents is that least some of Leighanne's issues might have their start in the fact that she was nearly on one of the 9/11 flight, and maybe -just maybe - that triggered something sort of PTSD episode? IIRC her earliest intolerant posts were against Islamic fanaticism (which was one of Trump's big campaign platforms), but since then she have expanded to oppose the BLM movement and support the Confederate legacy (with all the negative baggage associated with that).
But that's just a supposition, and doesn't excuse her actions. If there is a basis for her line of thinking, she needs to address it because it is not healthy for her, let alone Brian, Baylee or the fans whom she is upsetting.
Yes, she is entitled to her opinions, but she is also "entitled" to face the consequences of expressing those opinions, especially when they conflict with fandom. By putting herself "out there" more than the other wives - attending the cruises and promoting her products while doing so - she gives up any claims to privacy to shield her opinions. The news these days is full of stories of people who expressed extremely offensive and confrontational messages, and who then would up losing their jobs when their employer became aware of their words. If Leighanne feels she should be able to say what she feels, she should also realize there may be consequences for her expresssing those opinions. And those consequences may extend beyond her, and are already damagaging some fans' relationships with the band.
This reads extremely chauvanistic as I write this*, but Leighanne has a platform to express her opinions only because she is the wife of a Backstreet Boy. And by holding the opinions that she does, almost blatantly defying the feelings of the group's fans, she is severely damaging the BSB brand.
(* Real-world note: besides our "9-to-5" jobs, my wife ran a part-time printing business. She was the owner and I was her assistant. I understood that hierarchy, and I understood she had the final say, and that I had to be sure that whatever I said/did, did not reflect poorly on her business).
Citing the story of my friend and his wife, my friend was a decent person going in to the relationship, and he has enough residual decency to not take after his wife. Similarly, Brian really does seem to be a decent person, and I occasionally still give him kudos for taking on the haters in the "Christian" community who attacked him for taking part in the Gay Pride parade 10 years ago (a major Christian bookstore discontinued carrying his CD in protest). I/we really don't know how much he buys in to the Trump agenda, probably because he knows what a touchy topic that is (although it's not a good sign that he - and Howie - gave minimum lip service to #BlackOutTuesday
). But if he, as a Backstreet Boy, knows how sensitive these topics are to the band's fans and brand, he should also know that his wife's actions are also impacting the brand.
I mentioned earlier that sometimes the "real world" has made its presence in the fandom - for examples: AJ's abuse issues, Nick and the group's management keeping the rest of the group in the dark about his first solo CD, Kevin's hiatus, and (belatedly) Brian's vocal issues. Although the guys were sometimes initially hesitant to mention things for fear of the impact on the fandom, in the end it has been in the best interest of the band and the fandom to level with fans on the issues, and take steps to resolve issues; and they have had the fandom's support. There have been instances of denials, heated exchanges, and walkings out, but in the end facing the issues head on is the only real way to resolve them. This is one of those times when the guys have to get together, and stand together to deal with this issue.
For the good of the group, and for the fans.