To celebrate the first day of Pride month in the United States, Billboard has published open letters from iconic stars to the LGBT+ community—paying tribute to the unique ways their queer fans have supported and inspired them.
The project has kicked off Billboard’s #30DaysofPride campaign and includes messages from Tegan and Sara, Elton John, Dionne Warwick, Selena Gomez and Liza Minnelli.
Britney Spears penned a handwritten letter thanking all of her LGBTQ fans for being so vocal in describing how her music has got them through difficult periods in their lives.
“But I have a secret to share with you," Spears writes.
"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.
"I love you. Britney”
Liza Minnelli wrote in her letter: "Where would I be without the LGBTQ community of dazzling souls who have always supported and understood me on a level that is unique and extraordinary?"
Barbra Streisand says she remembers the very first time she sang in front of a paying audience—at a gay club in New York.
“I was 18 years old and had never been in a nightclub before. The gay community supported me from the start, and I will always be grateful,” she writes.
Selena Gomez says in her letter: "I remember as a young child going to brunch on Sundays with my mom and her group of friends. I had no idea they were all gay as I didn’t even comprehend what that meant at the time.
"All I knew is that I loved being surrounded by these kind, fun and loving friends my mother had around her. I definitely give credit to her for raising me in an environment that was incredibly open-minded and non-judgmental. She also surprised me at my 16th birthday party with a performance by the most beautiful drag queen singing my favourite song. I don’t think most 16-year-olds can say that!"
Many of the love letters allude to the challenges the LGBT+ community is currently facing from the Trump administration.
"We must remember that our greatest strength is in our love of life and colors, beauty and music, dancing and joy," writes Ru Paul Charles.
"That is our secret weapon. That is something that the opposition does not have. Keep those things near and dear to your heart because in times of war that will sustain you."
Tegan and Sara added that it was more important than ever to celebrate Pride and to recognise the work of the LGBT+ community from past generations.
"LGBTQ people are vibrant, beautiful, vast and valuable," the musicians say.
"Taking the time to show up and stand with our fellow LGBTQ friends, families and community members, as well as our allies, is how we continue to reflect to the world how wonderful we all are!
"While we are living in challenging and sometimes scary times, the experience of spending time with many leading LGBTQ organizations and activists in this country has continued to give us confidence in the future."
You can read all of the LGBT+ love letters here.