One Direction fans found queer community with ‘Rainbow Direction’ 

Rainbow Direction created safe space for queer One Direction fans.

Rainbow Direction created safe space for queer One Direction fans. Erin Rook

Boy band concerts may not seem like prime breeding ground for homophobia and transphobia, but some LGBTQ fans of the band One Direction say they encountered hate and discrimination from other fans of the boy band.

Longtime Directioner Li told MTV about the moment, at a show in Germany, that they recognized the need for change.

“A mother of a fan saw a teeny, tiny gay pride pin I was wearing, and she went off about it. [She asked] how could I, as an adult, be allowed to be at a show like this when I support views like that?” Li recalls. “That was when I woke up and thought: Something has to change about the way homophobia is entering this fandom.”

That experience prompted Li to found Rainbow Direction, which sought to create safe spaces at One Direction concerts and continue to fight hate in online fan communities. According to the group, Rainbow Direction connected with close to 8,000 fans over 200 meetups worldwide.

Now that the band is on an extended hiatus (which many suspect is actually a permanent breakup), queer Directioners are reflecting on the impact of Rainbow Direction on forming their LGBTQ identities and sense of community in a retrospective on MTV.com.

“U guys have made me feel so accepted and loved and just much more comfortable with myself and I’m so thankful for that!” one fan wrote on the Rainbow Direction Tumblr page. “Every new rainbow sign or report about the boys or other fans being supportive makes me really warm and fuzzy inside and had me realize that maybe staying closeted isn’t my only option.”

And band members took notice, too, wishing fans “Happy Pride” and donning rainbow flags at shows.

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Despite persistent rumors, band members insist none of them are dated each other. One Direction has also been picketed by Westboro Baptist Church for “enabling” people to be gay.

Read the full, fascinating story here.

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