Gwen Denholm wasn’t always a Beyoncé fan. She first became aware of the music icon via her daughter in the early 2000s, when the singer was still part of the R&B group Destiny’s Child, and then started hearing her solo material on the radio driving to and from work.
“I wasn’t into her first two albums to start,” Denholm, 52, who lives in Scotland, told HuffPost. “But she got me with ‘Diva.’”
These days, to call Denholm a super-fan would be an understatement. She is an active member of a Beyoncé fan Facebook group aptly titled Beyhive, where she is lovingly referred to as “momma” by the group’s over 150,000 members.
She even recently amassed a small devoted following of her own after a photo showing her giving the middle finger to her Beyoncé-hating neighbors got more than 20,000 retweets and over 150,000 likes on Twitter.
“To be fair, that was a hot day which you don’t get very often in Scotland,” she said, laughing, of the now viral image. “We were in the garden and had had a few beers and just had [the recently released live Beyoncé album] “Homecoming” on. We were like you know what? ‘Middle fingers up’ to any neighbors who don’t like Beyoncé.”
Mostly though, Denholm radiates positivity and kindness ― traits she says are inspired by Beyoncé. HuffPost recently chatted with the former nurse about fandom, what Beyoncé means to her and which song makes the hairs on the back her neck stand straight up.
Beyoncé is obviously very beloved by many people ― but what is it about her that makes you love her so much?
It’s what she feels about women. It means so much because I have strived and worked so hard, I’ve achieved things in my life I never thought I would all in the last 10 years because of listening to Beyoncé.
Wow! She has had that much of an impact on you?
Absolutely. Listening to the way she sings and speaks in her videos and interviews ― she’s such an inspiration.
What are some of the things you feel you’ve achieved because of her?
I was inspired go to university as an older graduate because of her. I was in the hospital for a long time back in 2008 when the I Am... tour was on the go, and all I had were my CDs. I just played them and it was just the only thing that got me better. If she only knew how much she has done for me and how much she has pulled me through getting better, getting out of the hospital. I was there for five months and she pulled me through.
Are people surprised to hear about your fandom when they meet you?
Yes, they are. When I went to one of the last tours I met people in the group and they’re like “Oh my god, you’re the momma of the Beyhive, we’re so blessed to meet you.” I was like I’m just another person, I just share my beliefs and love of Beyoncé and because I’m older than you I somehow ended up with this title of momma.
Yeah, let’s talk about that. How did that happen?
Through the admin team. They decided to start with it as just a little bit of a joke. They brought it in as a joke and they just went wild for it, they loved it. The Beyhive is more than just a group, it’s a community. Some would even go as far as to say we are family. I work closely with the admin team to keep the group a safe place everyone. It’s a beautiful place to express our love of Beyoncé.
How does having that title make you feel?
I love it because I’m quite a quiet person, believe it or not. I stay within my own home now a lot. I don’t work anymore ― so I have my social media, and being the momma of the Beyhive just enlightens my life. People message me as if I can help them and I do my best to give something back to people. Not everyone has a family out there.
You’ve really built a community with fellow fans. What are your fan stats? How many shows? How often do you listen to Beyoncé?
I’ve been to three shows: “Mrs. Carter,” “Formation” and the “On the Run” tours. I have Tidal on my phone, so I just plug it in when I’m doing whatever and it’s on the go the whole time. I’ve got my live albums which, once everyone goes to bed, I plug into my DVD player and watch “Lemonade” or “Self-Titled.” We have a laugh about “Self-Titled” on the Beyhive because if I’m quite horny that’s the one I go for [laughs].
I mean, those are some sexy songs.
Yes! “Partition,” “Blow” and “Rocket” and everything ― the sexy songs.
What are some of your favorite songs?
It’s not a favorite of all the Beyoncé lovers out there, but I’m gonna have to say “Halo.” It’s only because the day my dog died I turned on the car radio after she got put down and “Halo” came on the radio. And then the day we went to see “Formation” [tour] was on June 9, that was my dog’s birthday, and the last song Beyoncé sang was “Halo” as well. So it all has something to do with my beautiful dog. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite, but it’s a special song.
“Formation” ― the hairs stand up on the back of my neck when I hear it, and my husband’s too. I can watch the video and just go, “Wow, that’s my queen. That’s my queen.”
What would you say to Beyoncé if you had the chance to meet her?
Wow, that’s a tough one! I would say, “Would you like to come to my house for dinner and I’ll cook for you?” I’ve been told I’m a good cook.
How would you say she’s changed your life?
I don’t hate so much, I’m more laid back, I’m more caring, I’m more giving. Those kinds of things she has given me to strive forward and do what I can for myself as well.