Jade Thirlwall, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, and Perrie Edwards won the UK reality talent show The X Factor in 2011.
From there, they blossomed to become one of the biggest and best girl groups of their era.
Jesy subsequently left the group, but the remaining trio continued to go from strength to strength.
Along the way, Little Mix have established themselves as firm queer favourites. Favourites such as DNA, Move and Shout Out to My Ex became staples at gay bars and LGBTQ club nights across the UK.
Almost every girl group has some kind of queer appeal, but Little Mix’s bond with their LGBTQ fans feels uncommonly strong.
“I think initially what made them appeal to LGBTQ fans was their X Factor narrative…” says Mark from Derry. “They were underdogs who had to fight each week to be taken seriously, which I think is something a lot of us can relate to. Jesy’s difficulty with cyber-bullying also resonated with a lot of us. As their career has gone from strength to strength, I’d say their music has definitely helped them gain more and more gay fans. Songs like DNA, Move, Power, they’re more than just good pop songs – they’re also a little strange, which is something I think LGBTQ fans are more receptive to.”
Even if the group and their co-writers didn’t intend it, Little Mix songs often have lyrics which feel relatable to the queer ear. Weird People is a total outsider’s anthem. Touch’s thirsty reference to a guy’s “photograph with no T-shirt on” could have been written about gay Instagram.
And it’s not too much of a stretch to interpret Power’s gender politics – “Baby, you’re the man / But I got the power” – as a celebration of power-bottom sexuality.
But one Little Mix hit has been particularly embraced as a queer anthem.
“I think Secret Love Song was a big moment for the community…” says J from Newcastle. “Queer people were identifying with that song, and Jade kind of went out of her way to let people know that was something she liked. Jade for sure has done a lot to make LGBTQ fans feel welcome and appreciated. That’s really spread across to the other girls too. I don’t think there are many bands who are so outspoken and proud of their minority group fans in that way.”
“They’re completely unabashed in their love of their LGBTQ followers…” says Anthony from Manchester. He says he identifies with Little Mix because “they embrace positivity in every guise – in terms of the LGBTQ community, women’s rights, body image, sex appeal, everything.”
“They’re proper advocates who aren’t worried about losing a fan…” Anthony continues. “I remember a few years ago, Jade handed their arse to someone on Twitter who dissed a drag queen.”