Chris Crocker has opened up about the backlash to his 2007 viral video defending Britney Spears.
In a Tuesday tweet, the former YouTuber said the vitriol he received in response to "Leave Britney Alone" was rooted in transphobia toward a "gender-bending teenager," and a reason why his plea was not taken seriously.
"When I said it, I had to fear for my life," Crocker wrote in a statement posted to the social media platform. "Death threats were sent to my grandmothers house. I was already living in the south as a gender-bending teenager with no money or ways of feeling protected."
It was not only straight people who came for Crocker. "This hate was also directed towards me by other LGBT people," he wrote. "Not just verbal, but physical attacks were made towards me at gay bars and out in the streets. (By LGBT people who were embarrassed of me because of the way the media made fun of me. Which made them feel I gave them a bad name.) This was during a pre-Drag Race time, before everyone & their mom was saying ‘Yass queen!’ It was a time of only embracing the heteronormative people in media."
Crocker, now 33, was 19 when he recorded his defense of the pop diva, who at the time was at her peak of being hounded by paparazzi and tabloids. In the video, Crocker expressed concern that the negative media attention would impact Spears's mental health and increase the risk of her taking her own life.
Spears's meteoric rise to fame — and the relentless attacks in the press — are chronicled in a new documentary from The New York Times, Framing Britney Spears. The film shows how misogyny played a central role in Spears's career, from the media blitz to the conservatorship that gave her father, Jamie Spears, control of her life and finances. The latter birthed the #FreeBritney movement, in which fans are demanding the end of the conservatorship.
In his own tweet, Crocker, whose video is referenced in Framing Britney Spears, called for introspection in the media regarding its coverage of LGBTQ+ people. "I hope not only Britney gets the freedom she deserves, but that Femme queer people are not tortured in the media when showcasing humanity," he said.
Framing Britney Spears can be streamed through FX on Hulu. Watch the trailer below.