I was 6 years old when I discovered the Backstreet Boys. I remember seeing them on Nickelodeon’s All That but didn’t pay much attention to them.
Then my Mom’s friend gave me their CD as a present. I listened to it and was instantly hooked. As Long As You Love Me was the song on All That so I was familiar with it but soon loved almost every song on the Backstreet Boys album. I can’t describe the feeling other than it felt like I was meant to be a fan. They instantly made me feel better and always put a smile on my face. I truly believe it was foreshadowing for what was about to happen later in my life.
I actually looked up the first airing of the All That show and it was January 17th, 1998. This means that I discovered the Backstreet Boys, my biggest source of happiness, exactly one day before my 6th birthday. My birthday is January 18th!
Cut to 2001. My grandma passed away from lung cancer exactly one week before my 9th birthday. I was devastated. I had never experienced a loss that big before. She was only 54 so that made it worse. While she was in the hospital I was given Black and Blue as an early Christmas gift. My aunt and uncle let me listen to it on the way to see her and never objected once. I remember we were all in my grandma’s house catching up and hoping she would survive. Shape of My Heart was premiering on TRL and what usually would be cracks about my love for them turned to silence. They let me listen in peace, because they knew that seeing my grandma like that (and knowing the inevitable was going to happen) they let a little girl enjoy her favorite band. No quips. Just love. I will never forget that.
My fellow Americans and pretty much everyone else know what else happened in 2001. The terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. Until that day the thing I feared most was bedtime because I loved staying up to play. That day showed me what pure evil looks like. I clung to BSB even more after that. What was already my happy place had been solidified as a more innocent time for me. They were my rock.
When I was in middle school I was bullied for my weight. My best friend had moved out of state and this was before social media and me having a cell phone. We lost touch and I was heartbroken. I was alone and hurting. The man we were living with was a very toxic person and I strongly considered suicide, but thankfully never tried it. I had the unshakable feeling that I would meet BSB one day and it kept me alive.
When I was 13 I saw my first BSB concert. Never Gone. My Mom knew how much it meant to me to see them so she grabbed tickets. The toxic man I referred to drove us to Cleveland but not without complaining about it the whole time. I am thankful I got to see them so at least he did agree to it.
A few years went by. Thankfully, my Mom ditched the toxic man and we were happy. I graduated from high school with little to no drama and felt truly free. I started college and BSB announced their collaboration with New Kids on The Block. I had not seen them since Never Gone but remained a die-hard fan. (If you were on Tumblr in those days I was Nick-Carter-4-Ever) so in 2011 I got to see BSB again. That was also the year Nick followed me on Twitter.
Something else amazing happened in 2011:
I MET NICK CARTER FOR THE FIRST TIME
I had won a contest to be in his video for Burning Up. That is an experience I will never forget. It took some convincing but my Mom finally agreed to drive to Nashville where the shoot was. I was 19 but didn’t have my driver’s license yet. There was no guarantee that I was going to meet him but I ran on full faith that I would. I was not wrong. Nick came outside to greet us about 4 hrs after I stood outside waiting to go in. I couldn’t believe it. All he did was shake my hand said hi. It meant the world to me. As I told my Mom right beside of me and then my Facebook friends: AFTER 13 YEARS, I JUST MET NICK CARTER.
Obviously Nick is my favorite. I go so far as to call him my idol. I never forget, however, that if it weren’t for BSB as a whole I wouldn’t even know this beautiful soul existed.
I have met Nick and the Boys several times now. Getting to have so many experiences with them is gratifying and unbelievable. I truly never imagined I would get to meet them let alone several times and be on two (about to be three) cruises with them. They are my life. They are my happiness. They are my light when there is dark. Some people will never understand but that’s okay. There are thousands who agree with me. I am forever grateful to the Boys and to this fandom. I have met some of the greatest friends I will ever have.
Also, since I mentioned her so many times, I am thankful to my Mom for putting up with but understanding my obsession. She met Nick at the video shoot and the rest of BSB when she went with me on the 2014 BSB Cruise. That’s a mother who truly loves her kid and wants her to be happy. I love that woman.
The Backstreet Boys saved my life. Almost 20 years later, I am still a supportive fan. This will never change. If one of them happen to read this know that I am grateful and honored to be a fan.
If you would like me to share your story of how BSB changed or affected your life, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to post it here on the TDS blog! Just send it my way.