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fan site ‘I’m so proud of Britney’ — meet the superfan who started the campaign to free Britney Spears

Jordan Miller was just 15 when he set up BreatheHeavy.com, the fan site where he coined the phrase ‘Free Britney’ and sparked a global campaign for the singer’s freedom. In the wake of her bombshell testimony, he talks about his 12-year campaign and the backlash he’s faced along the way

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The Free Britney movement has grown from a small pocket of ardent fans to a global movement eager to protect Spears, who is pictured performing onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards

The Free Britney movement has grown from a small pocket of ardent fans to a global movement eager to protect Spears, who is pictured performing onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards

#FreeBritney activists protest at LA's Grand Park during a conservatorship hearing for Britney Spears in June 2021. Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

#FreeBritney activists protest at LA's Grand Park during a conservatorship hearing for Britney Spears in June 2021. Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Britney Spears fan Jordan Miller coined the term 'Free Britney' on his website in 2009

Britney Spears fan Jordan Miller coined the term 'Free Britney' on his website in 2009

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The Free Britney movement has grown from a small pocket of ardent fans to a global movement eager to protect Spears, who is pictured performing onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards

In a bombshell court testimony late last month, Britney Spears spoke publicly for the first time about the controversial conservatorship that has controlled her life for the last 13 years.

As fans chanted “Free Britney!” outside the Los Angeles courthouse, the singer told a judge that she has been compelled to work seven days a week, forced to take drugs against her will and prevented from having children. She called the conservatorship “abusive” and compared the legal arrangement to sex trafficking. “I just want my life back,” she said.

Then, on July 1, court filings revealed that the judge had denied Spears’s request to remove her father from his role overseeing her conservatorship.

To headline skimmers and pop-culture dabblers, Spears’s court hearing seemed to come after sustained media attention and online speculation over the last 18 months.

Yet to Jordan Miller, founder of BreatheHeavy.com and the person who coined the expression “Free Britney”, her testimony marked an emotional, and potentially vindicating, turning point in a 12-year campaign calling for her conservatorship to be lifted.

“I’m so proud of her and I think speaking it into existence and letting people know she’s in an abusive situation, that is just extremely powerful,” Miller says, speaking from his home in Las Vegas.

“For many years, it felt like I was speaking into the wind… But something about this whole thing did not sit right with me from day one, and I was like, I’ll be damned if I’m going to be silenced.”

Miller, who’s now 33, was just 15 years old when he launched BreatheHeavy.com. It was meant to be a fan site, a place where Britney devotees like himself could listen to her music and chat to one another, but it soon evolved into something else entirely.

“BreatheHeavy launched only a few days before she injured her knee. Then she cancelled the tour, got married [to backup dancer Kevin Federline] and had kids [sons Sean Preston and Jayden James]. She had this tumultuous year in 2007, so I saw all this unravelling. There was never an opportunity for things to get calm. There was so much that was a mystery about her, so it was alluring in a sense.”

Following her public breakdown in 2007, Spears’s father Jamie petitioned for an emergency temporary conservatorship — a legal guardianship that gave him control over her finances and her day-to-day life.

When the conservatorship was renewed eight months later, fans began to ask why she was in a legal arrangement that is usually used for people who have a severe cognitive impairment. (Jamie allegedly claimed that his daughter, who is now 39, had dementia when he originally filed for the conservatorship).

“At the time, I thought, like how everyone thinks, now especially, how can someone who goes on tour and puts out a new album and raises children and does interviews, how are they in such a binding restraint that they can’t get out of it legally? She’s not even able to get her own lawyer. It makes no sense,” he says.

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#FreeBritney activists protest at LA's Grand Park during a conservatorship hearing for Britney Spears in June 2021. Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

#FreeBritney activists protest at LA's Grand Park during a conservatorship hearing for Britney Spears in June 2021. Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

#FreeBritney activists protest at LA's Grand Park during a conservatorship hearing for Britney Spears in June 2021. Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Like many of Spears’s fans, Miller questioned if the conservatorship was necessary, but he was also conflicted about his role as the founder of one of the singer’s most popular fan sites.

Should he continue to run BreatheHeavy in its original guise, he asked himself, or should he use it as a platform to document her ongoing conservatorship?

“I questioned myself, because it’s someone’s life and I was talking about something that was so personal and private and intimate. I constantly had to weigh that versus saying nothing.”

Miller began to voice his opinion on the conservatorship in late 2008 and it wasn’t long before he felt the full force of Jamie Spears and his legal team.

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Britney Spears fan Jordan Miller coined the term 'Free Britney' on his website in 2009

Britney Spears fan Jordan Miller coined the term 'Free Britney' on his website in 2009

Britney Spears fan Jordan Miller coined the term 'Free Britney' on his website in 2009

“He called me and told me he was going to destroy BreatheHeavy,” says Miller, who was sitting in his childhood bedroom at the time, surrounded by posters of his idol. Jamie’s legal team sent a cease-and-desist letter giving Miller 24 hours to shut down the site. Miller complied at first, but then, a few days later, he reopened the site.

“Because I was so outspoken, I fractured this critical relationship with her team and it had always been a goal and a dream of mine to work with Britney in some official capacity, creatively, and at that point I was like, I’ve ruined it, I’ve ruined my dream, it’s never going to happen.

“Being very naive, I tried for many years to repair the situation and I think, over time, I kind of did make better relationships with people who are working with her, but I also felt like they were keeping me at arm’s length.”

As the founder of a popular fan site, Miller had always had preferential access to Britney Spears. He met her the night before her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas in 2007 and joined her on stage during her Femme Fatale tour. These VIP experiences gave him a glimpse behind the curtain, but they also helped him build relationships with the people closest to the star.

“Keep in mind that I’ve been immersed in this world for 17 years and, naturally, along the way, you strike up relationships and working relationships… so yeah, there were certainly things I would hear over the years that would lead me to think, ‘OK, stay on this trail, Jordan, you’re not just making things up, there is truth to this.

“There were definitely people along the way who were like ‘This isn’t right’, [but] I feel an obligation to keep them protected.’”

Still, even with insider accounts confirming his concerns, Miller had doubts — not about the stories he was hearing, but about whether he should be using his platform to voice his opinion.

“It felt like I was constantly questioning ‘Am I doing Britney harm by speaking out about a situation that I don’t have great detail on — besides all the signs?’ When I first started speaking out, I was in this place of outrage and confusion… but as you get older, as one does, you start to self-reflect.”

The backlash Miller received over the years only made things more confusing. “I would get people saying I didn’t know the full story. I definitely got that a lot and it was very gaslight-y. It was so disorienting because, literally, for 12 years, I was like, I don’t know, I have no clue, I just think this feels super wrong.”

“People said Britney’s family was looking out for her and they were trying to stop this swirling black hole that she was in in 2007, so who are we to speculate on this conservatorship and her mental health?

“Everyone felt like it wasn’t their place to say anything, and I don’t disagree with that, but when everyone thinks like that, there is no change. It needed to have all of those things happen over the years for people to finally see,OK, this is a terrible thing that’s happening to her in front of our eyes.”

The Free Britney campaign continued to grow, despite backlash. As the movement gathered pace, attention turned to the singer’s Instagram account and the unsettling content she regularly posts there. Doubts were cast about whether she was in charge of her social media; others suggested that the star was sending coded messages to fans, asking for help.

“I think the first question is whether or not Britney is truly controlling her Instagram,” says Miller. “There are a lot of theories… And if you do believe that she’s in control of her Instagram, then a lot of these captions are really eerie.

“Do I think she’s wearing a yellow shirt because she was told to wear a yellow shirt if she needs help? Things like that, the more conspiratorial side of things, I personally distance myself from. It’s interesting… it’s juicy to think that, but I personally don’t. One of them was like, ‘She has 911 written in her eyelashes’ and I’m like, no.”

Miller describes the last 12 years as an “internal struggle”. There were times when he wondered if he was just seeing what he wanted to see and times when he wondered if he was “one of those rapid, crazy fans”.

It wasn’t until September of last year, when Spears’ attorney, Sam Ingham, filed a motion that seemed to endorse the Free Britney campaign, that Miller felt a sense of vindication. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is the first time I don’t feel bat-shit crazy about this whole situation’…

“Now, I look back at my younger self and I’m just like, ‘F*** yeah!’ I was just this young guy who believed in something and I had a gut feeling and I ran with it, and that’s such a valuable lesson to go with your gut. It’s a really hard thing to know because nobody is going to tell you if you’re right or you’re wrong.”

After signing off a post with the words “Free Britney” in 2009, Miller has watched the campaign grow from a small pocket of ardent fans to a global movement. “At this point, the whole world is watching,” he says, “and the whole world agrees that this is an awful circumstance that she is forced to be in.”

Yet even with public pressure and increased media attention, Spears’s battle for personal autonomy is far from over. The next hearing in her case is scheduled for July 14 and a lengthy legal process is likely before any decision is made.

Ingham, a court-appointed attorney, has represented Spears for the last 13 years and Miller says he would like to see the singer given the opportunity to hire her own legal counsel.

“In the meantime, Ingham can go ahead and grant Britney’s request and file the petition — he works for her. They shouldn’t have to evaluate her yet again for her request. If she’s already done evaluation after evaluation, then at that point, it’s just prolonging the situation,” he says.

“Stop poking and prodding and analysing Britney Spears! This is obviously crippling her quality of life. Let this woman get married if she wants to, have kids if she wants to, return to the stage if she wants to — let this woman choose what she wants to do for once.”

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