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Celebrating One Direction’s 14th Anniversary With the Fandom

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Written By: Unscattered Horizons

July 23, 2024 will be the fourteenth anniversary of the day that One Direction became a band. To celebrate this milestone, I sent a survey out to the fandom, inviting everyone to share their love for the band and the community that still remains all these years later.

There was an overwhelming response of appreciation and sincere love for One Direction and the community. I’ve included a selection of responses, but was unable to include them all due to the volume.


Thank you to everyone who responded and contributed to this celebration! Where no credit is given, the respondent asked to remain anonymous. All those included in this article have given their consent for their answers to appear in the magazine. Some answers have been corrected for spelling or grammar, or shortened to allow room for as many responses as possible.

When did you become a fan of One Direction? (percentages are rounded)

  • 2010 – 20%
  • 2011 – 9%
  • 2012 – 9%
  • 2013 – 4%
  • 2014 – 2%
  • 2017 – 2%
  • 2018 – 4%
  • 2019 – 2%
  • 2020 – 10%
  • 2021 – 15%
  • 2022 – 13%
  • 2023 – 9%

As you can see, this fandom has a wide range of tenure. Some fans have been around since the very beginning, a steady number of new additions joined during the active band years, and then a resurgence of fans around 2020 that has continued since. How incredible that the band is still finding new fans fourteen years later. And equally as incredible, they have other fans who have remained for over a decade!

What are your earliest fandom memories?

  • Liam’s livestreams in 2022 – Chelle
  • Long haired Louis cooking! – lou28sunshine
  • Celebrating their 11th anniversary in July 2021 on Twitter – karie
  • “Please give me a chance.” – Zyle (she/they)
  • Receiving my first 1D doll as a present – Skylar Mathias (she/her) (they/them)
  • Finding out my roommate at my boarding school also liked them so we watched the live shows together – LD
  • Taking my granny to see 1D and everyone being so kind to her. – raeluvbluegreen (she/her)
  • I came across their performance at the 2012 Olympics and I remembered watching that live on TV back in the day. – J from Germany (she/her)
  • I remember an announcement about One Direction premiering a new single on BBC Radio 1 so I set my alarm to wake me up at 2:30am my time to listen to the radio broadcast as they played Little Things for the first time. – Hannah (boyfriendspark) (she/her)

What is your favourite One Direction album? Why is it your favourite?

  • Up All Night
    • It’s the nostalgia, mostly. – Anjori
  • Midnight Memories
    • Hearing Strong and Happily back to back for the first time changed me as a person on a fundamental level. – Hannah (boyfriendspark) (she/her)
    • It feels like the first time they’re able to write and say what they want.
    • It signifies a big milestone in 1D’s career as the sound changed quite drastically and the boys had the chance to contribute a lot to the writing. I don’t think they would have been as successful as they were without this album and its changes. – Sandra (she/her)
  • Four
    • I just feel like it is a lyrically strong album and I put more weight on lyrics than sound personally. Also it was the last album with Zayn, so it is very special. – Shania
    • The development of their sound by this point was perfect.
    • Just the sound of it and the fact all of them were recording it 🙁 – Karie
  • Made In The A.M.
    • Because of how mature it sounds.
    • It was more of what they wanted to sing. – Zyle (she/they)
    • Louis is more prominent and I love the songs so much. – Vinylgirl68
    • It’s filled with emotional songs that speak to my own journey. – raeluvbluegreen (she/her)

There were several people who refused to choose a favourite. I respect their refusal of the premise, as I also refuse to pick. I see something special in each album, a different reason to return and enjoy their music each time. The impassioned reasoning for each individual’s favourite album was expected and appreciated.

What is your favourite One Direction song? Why is it your favourite?

  • 18. This song makes me very emotional and always brings back a certain feeling of nostalgia. When I listen to this song, it reminds me of someone who is very special to me. It wasn’t the first song I heard from them but it was the one that made me fall in love with the boys as artists and human beings. – Angel Perez (she/her)
  • Right Now is the most sentimental song for me, makes me cry without fail every single time. Obviously it hits home with Zayn being the lead vocal and the lyrics tied in. However, for me, the song is also very personal because during the Midnight Memories era, I started crushing hard on a girl for the first time in my life where it felt like the crush was mutual. We were both One Direction fans, which is how we met, and without even trying I fell for her. I was a teenager and just figuring out my own sexuality but it felt so exciting and electrifying to me. We didn’t live very close and hadn’t met each other in person so very quickly, Right Now became our song. When I bought tickets to see 1D during WWA tour, I told her that I’d call her during the show when they sang Right Now so she could hear it too. About a month before the show, we “broke up” as much as two closeted teenagers in a long distance relationship could. I debated the whole show whether or not I should still call her, but I never did. I couldn’t stop sobbing the entire song and didn’t want her to hear that. We never talked about it and honestly even though we were never really together but kind of sort of were, I always loved her, before and after. Every time we see any of the boys live to this day, it makes us both reach out to each other and reconnect – catch up on how things have been. So I guess I’d have to say Right Now is my favourite song even if I can’t listen to it all the time, because it reminds me of the girl I’ll always love. – Hannah (boyfriendspark) (she/her)
  • Changes on a daily basis but today it’s What A Feeling. Sounds super cheesy but the feeling I get when listening to it is really similar to when I listen to Stardust by Zayn. I feel so floaty (is that a word) and I kind of feel my body in a strange and warm way. Reminds me of being hugged. – charlotte
  • History. I love everything in this song! The harmony, the lyrics, the mv, what it says about the relation between them and with the fans. And the fact that it was their last performance 💔 – Cy (she/her)
  • Happily. I don’t know why the desperate pleas of a star crossed couple to simply “let us be happy together” is my favourite but it’s 100% the last few lines from Louis – Atlas (he/they/she)
  • If I Could Fly and Home. I don’t care what people say they go together. They’re so vulnerable and full of love. Stories of having that person – choosing and fighting for them.
  • Act My Age because of watching YouTube videos and the boys looked like they were having a blast performing it.
  • Best Song Ever. Just hearing the intro always puts a smile on my face no matter how bad my day has been. – J from Germany (she/her)
  • Steal My Girl – Louis really wrote what he felt, in the only way he could. It’s such a great song. – (she/her)
  • Where Do Broken Hearts Go. It is a perfect mix of emotions and wanting to dance along.
  • Home. It’s a queer anthem 🏳️‍🌈 – Violet (she/they)
  • If I Could Fly because it’s so raw, emotional and heartfelt.

Almost every single song was mentioned at least once in the responses. Yes, even the early albums! There was a lot of love for the vocals and the lyrics, but also for personal experiences attached to the songs. Thank you all for sharing those stories! I’ve only been able to include a few of them here.

What lane did you start in? (percentages have been rounded)

  • Harry – 37%
  • Larry – 26%
  • Louis – 16%
  • Niall – 7%
  • I didn’t have a lane – 5%
  • Zayn – 4%
  • All of the above – 4%
  • Liam – 2%

What lane are you in now? (percentages have been rounded)

  • All of the above – 44%
  • Larry – 21%
  • Louis – 19%
  • Harry – 7%
  • Niall – 4%
  • Liam – 2%
  • Ziam – 2%
  • I don’t have a lane – 2%

What do you consider to be One Direction’s biggest accomplishment?

  • The family they’ve created. – H (they/them)
  • Going through years of abuse together and staying friends.
  • Having a fanbase that’s so so gay – Kiara (they/them)
  • Continuing to be great people after all they’ve been through.
  • Five albums in five years and touring at the same time. Huge workload. – Kate Eades (she/her)
  • Creating a safe space for their fans that continues to grow in their respective solo careers. – J from Germany (she/her)
  • They shaped the way for other artists. And they kept winning awards YEARS after they broke up. – LD
  • How they managed to write so many songs themselves and to grow into these amazing mature artists. How they grew and how much fun they looked like they were having on stage!
  • Few weeks ago, in 2024, they were still in the first 100 artists listened to on Spotify (I think it was 75). 9 years in the hiatus and their music is still loved and is still a great part of people’s lives. I think it shows how strong their impact in the music history is. And how dedicated the fans are. – Cy (she/her)
  • Honestly above all else I think it’s the fandom that they were able to cultivate. There are so many fans still all over the world that will support the boys in every single way in their music careers even past the hiatus of One Direction – I think that speaks to how huge of an accomplishment that was for them. I don’t know of any other bands that cultivated this level of fan dedication beyond the bounds of the band itself. Obviously artists have started in bands and gone on to have successful solo careers, but I don’t know of any other fanbase that is so unyielding in the level of dedication they are willing to give to every single member of One Direction. The overwhelming majority of One Direction fans have clearly shown that they want nothing but happiness and success for all of the boys in whatever way that means for them and that will be the reason that every single one of them can go on to have the careers and lifestyles of their choosing for the rest of their lives. – Hannah (boyfriendspark) (she/her)

Dozens of people mentioned San Siro, so rather than singling one response out, this is a general acknowledgement of that incredible moment and all who were able to share in it.

What keeps you in the fandom?

  • The friends I’ve made and the fanfiction. – Z
  • My chosen family and my connection to OT5 – raeluvbluegreen (she/her)
  • Their hearts. Their generosity. Their talent.
  • Their music, their words, but especially their personalities – tayswizzle_1d 
  • It’s family. It’s safety. It’s all I needed. I have that here. – LD
  • The music and their hearts. They are all such amazing human beings! – Vinylgirl68
  • The friends I’ve made. Showing the boys they still have our support. Their music. My group chats! – chelle
  • Seeing them being successful each on their own, while supporting each other. And of course, all the friends I made these last years. – Anni
  • Their relationship with each other (the band), the love between them and the fans, the community they created for all of us to be safe and loved in. – Atlas (he/they/she)
  • Sharing the excitement and joy with other people who get it. And a ridiculous amount of unending love for all of OT5 that everyone else in my life gets annoyed with.
  • The boys, as I still love them dearly and will support them no matter what. Also some of the amazing people on Twitter (especially Larry Twitter) and friends I made when going to the solo shows. – Sandra (she/her)
  • Watching their solo journeys, especially Louis’, take off has been really inspiring. – Shania
  • I think that what keeps me in the fandom is the passion that the five of them give to us. The companionship and friendship that we built is so strong. And their songs and lyrics are powerful. They advocate for the right things, so who doesn’t want to be in a fandom like this? – Angel Perez (she/her)
  • Larry, Ziam and a bit of Shiall. Also their obvious talent, their kindness and their love. There is also always something new to experience in the fandom. Millions of fanfictions, long ass threads about different topics on twitter, song analysis, fan art, fan interactions etcetc. I also think I couldn’t keep my life “balanced“ without them. There would be no aspect of my life to give me this pure joy and love, just these big feelings. I would genuinely be lost without them. – charlotte

Basically, we all love the band and each other. These responses were so lovely and I’m glad that the fandom and the band brings so much joy and love to everyday life.

What is your favourite way to show your support for One Direction?

  • Going to their shows will always be my absolute favourite way of supporting them. I was lucky enough to go to a few One Direction shows, and no one place on earth has felt more euphorically like home than those shows. The thing I’m most grateful for that hasn’t changed since the hiatus is that feeling at their shows. Especially Louis, but when I’ve seen any of the boys live on their own, the atmosphere they create still feels so much like home and like I’m with my family. – Hannah (boyfriendspark) (she/her)
  • I listen to them daily, OT5 and solo, attend shows, watch YouTube content, talk about them, wear merch – Zyle (she/they)
  •  I wear my merch proudly, I read a LOT of fanfic, I have a fan account on twitter, I read threads and inform myself about topics like closeting in the music industry and share it with people on the internet but also people in my private life. I listen to their solo albums and also 1D albums almost constantly. I go to as many concerts as I can pay for (like 2 or 3🥲). – charlotte
  • I think it’s realising that you can be a fan of the band, a fan of them solo, and also not enjoy something they’ve done but still be supportive.
  • I make playlists when they drop new music to help get them charted. I listen to their music as often as possible. I live in merch outside of work. – N9nnaDK
  • Supporting all 5 solo and still the bands music, wearing merch 24/7, watching old and new vids all the time
  • All of the above. But merch probably wins. I’ve given them so much of my money 😂
  • I really love watching old videos of them and especially old livestreams of their concerts.
  • Being involved in fan projects and supporting newer fandom members however I can. I’ve created group chats for those that didn’t have any and hosted spaces for Larrie vets to answer questions from the timeline in order share their valuable experiences and perspectives. – jojodancer369

Do you feel welcome and accepted in the One Direction fandom?

  • Most welcome and accepted I’ve EVER felt. – JI
  • Not always. It’s a brutal place out there.
  • In my bit I do, but “at my big age” in general no. – EJ (she/her)
  • Yes, I have always met amazing people when I went to the shows on my own. – Sandra (she/her)
  • Yes, absolutely. The fans in the larry/ziam lane of the 1D fandom are very welcoming and friendly. – Neli (she/her)
  • Now yes, but it took some time. I think if you don’t connect with your people then it can be a struggle. – raeluvbluegreen (she/her)
  • Most times, yes. But as I am older I get some comments and have to remind a few people that the boys are my age. I watched them since the beginning. They are part of MY history. – Rhaianne
  • Yes, I do. But sometimes I kinda feel ashamed I’ve only been a fan for 3 years. I also feel uncomfortable talking about me being only 19 years old because many fans might think that I don’t care about them on a profound level. I would have loved to be a fan for a longer time but I was literally not able to speak one English word when they were an active band. – charlotte
  • In the queer sect of the fandom, yes! I was in the Gaylor community for years and though I made many IRL friends there, this feels different. Much more inclusive and welcoming. This fandom is more expansive, from age, identities, nationality, etc. It’s so vast and it’s been incredible to see the groupings/friendships created here. Even as a newbie, I’ve been welcomed with open arms. – Violet (she/they)

This is just a small selection of the responses. Most people said that yes, they do feel accepted. However, there were some who had caveats or who shared things that felt too personal for me to include here. I hope this is a reminder that this community has the capacity for radical inclusion and expansion beyond its’ current boundaries, but that there are those who still feel excluded or harassed even within the fandom, and even within certain sections of the fandom (i.e. Larries, 5/5s, etc.).

Have you ever taken a break from the One Direction fandom before returning? If yes, what brought you back?

  • Yes. Louis going on tour in 2022 (brought me back). – Anjori
  • I went on hiatus, Harry’s solo career brought me back. – EJ (she/her)
  • Yes – kids kept me busy. Came back during COVID and watched TikTok. – Kate Eades (she/her)
  • An online break but not a break from the music. Louis’ LTWT brought me back to the online community. – H (they/them)
  • No, not really. They’ve always been there in the background even when I was raising my children and home making.
  • Not a major break or anything. But sometimes you need space from the hate. Not from the band though.
  • What brought me back was the pandemic and moving back home after college. It took me a while to find a job as it was 2020 and literally nowhere was hiring. I just ended up getting sucked right back into my comfort people – One Direction. Logged back into my stan account and the rest is history. – Hannah (boyfriendspark) (she/her)
  • Yes, in 2016 I went away to college and was busy. I would tweet occasionally, and I still streamed ALL the boy’s music, but I wasn’t on Twitter every day. I returned in 2020 and the leaking of All Along, which I heard for the first time when it came across my FYP on TikTok. Instantly went back onto stan Twitter that day and have been active every single day since. – Shania
  • I only stayed up to date with Niall’s career after 2015. But then I saw a friend attending HSLOT in 2023 and bought a ticket because it looked amazing. After listening to Harry’s music, I also started on Louis’ solo catalogue and fell in love. So many lyrics made me think of Larry, so I went to Twitter and found out the fandom still exists and is thriving. – Sandra (she/her)
  • Changed platforms and had to find new friends on twitter when my Tumblr friends had all gone inactive. And I guess I’m taking a break now. I’m into other things.

I asked this question mostly to show how common it is to take a step back, take a breather, whatever amount of space you need. Sometimes I see people feeling guilty for needing space, but the fandom is still here. With such a wide spread, diverse, dedicated fandom, I think it’s safe to say that you can take the break you need and know that there will be a community to come back to if and when you are ready.

If you could tell the members of the band one thing, what would it be?

  • I hope they look to the 1D era with kindness, pride and satisfaction. I know these were also challenging times because they were touring so much and being pressured by management and I hope they know how grateful their fans are for their dedication to always give the best shows and share memorable moments together. – Cy (she/her)
  • Keep fighting for who you are and the music you want to create. – Vinlygirl68
  • I hope they understand how important they still are to a lot of people – EJ (she/her)
  • They were always good enough. – Sarah
  • Thank you for all the joy – you’ve changed so many lives sand you’re so, so loved.
  • I’m sorry for all of the pain and bs you had to go through in pursuit of your dreams. – Z
  • They saved me in so many ways and I’m thankful for that. – Niki; nikita54067730 (they/them)
  • Their strength and perseverance is inspiring and they are truly the loveliest people. – Neli (she/her)
  • We love you and it’s okay if you’re not coming back. Your health is more important than everything. – Nina2776
  • Don’t worry for a second that we won’t be there for you through it all.
  • From the bottom of my heart, thank you deeply for creating the music that has been the soundtrack to my life. Being able to be a fan of yours is the absolute joy of my life. – Hannah (boyfriendspark) (she/her)
  • Thank you for showing up for us and allowing us safe spaces to be free…where you go, so will I. – raeluvbluegreen (she/her)

Generally, people expressed gratitude and pride, wanting to tell all 5 band members that they appreciate everything they’ve done, they support them, and they love them. I hope they all know how much love is constantly being sent their way, as I was touched just reading your messages to compile this list.

If you could share one thing with other members of the fandom, what would it be?

  • Be gay, do crime. – Hannah (boyfriendspark) (she/her)
  • Be gentle with our boys. – JI
  • You’ll never outgrow music. – Z
  • Music doesn’t have an age limit – EJ (she/her)
  • Thank you for being my chosen family. It has saved my life. – LD
  • Thanks for giving me a safe space even though I’m new to the fandom and old! – Vinylgirl68
  • Liam deserves to be heard. He’s not the scary monster some have made him out to be. – Chelle
  • Keep your heart and mind open. There’s so many incredible people of all ages and cultures to learn from here. – jojodancer369
  • Try to be kinder. We all love the boys in our own way. My love doesn’t invalidate your love. They need us all. – raeluvbluegreen (she/her)
  • Listen to their lyrics, understand who they are, learn about the abuse in the music industry and actively work to make it better. – (she/her)
  • The fandom as a whole has brought me so much happiness since I discovered it, even though I’m mostly on the sidelines. It’s truly changed my life. I’m so happy to be here.
  • You are loved and supported and know there is always someone with their dms open to reach out. – Niki; nikita54067730 (they/them)
  • How proud I am to be part of this fandom and how thankful I am for all the lovely fans that continue to support the boys, especially the ones who have been here since the beginning that carry the 1D lore with them and share it with the new fans. – Neli (she/her)
  • I’m so proud to be part of such a big and loving community. I was at Niall’s Harry’s and Louis’ concerts and all the people were so lovely. I’m a really anxious person but I never felt safer with such a big crowd. – charlotte
  • Don’t be afraid to go to shows alone. I had never been to a concert before by myself and Harry was my first one. It gave me confidence that I can do things for myself. I made some great friends at these shows that I still talk to today. – teachingstyle (she/her)

This question resulted in quite a mixed response. The majority of people responded with gratitude and love for the fandom and the community they’ve found here. Others were concerned about infighting and allowing the drama to affect personal lives. Many people were vulnerable in their response, talking about the kindness and compassion of strangers and friends that they found through the One Direction fandom. It seems, as with any group, we generally do a wonderful job of looking after one another, but occasionally need to remember that the people on the other side of the screen/tweet/DM are human. Overall, it was inspiring to read about how many of you have found a second family in this community.

Final question: What do you want to celebrate about One Direction and/or the fan community in recognition of their 14 year anniversary?

  • The music they gave us. The friends they brought us. – Z
  • Maybe their individual charity work. I feel like that stuff doesn’t get talked about enough. – Shania
  • They way the home the band created has not only stayed intact but continues to grow and flourish. – H (they/them)
  • I would like to celebrate the relationship they have with each other from the beginning to now and the amazing support they have for fans all around the world – Victoria
  • I want to celebrate the way that, after 14 years, a band hiatus, and 5 solo careers, we are still here, celebrating One Direction’s anniversary and uniqueness. I want to celebrate our family and the work that the five of them did in the last 14 years! – Angel Perez (she/her)
  • I’ll celebrate that they’re all still sharing their gifts with us & bringing us fans along for the ride with them. Truly incredible humans!! – jojodancer369
  • I want to celebrate the boys for staying who they are and always staying grounded. They never take us for granted and are so thankful. – charlotte
  • I would like to celebrate the inherent queerness we all came to know and love about One Direction and the fandom. Unknowingly they helped a ton of young queer people (mainly young women) feel comfortable discovering who they are and provided a safe place for us to explore identity within the fandom and I don’t think that gets appreciated enough. – Hannah (boyfriendspark) (she/her)
  • That they survived. That they gave us some fabulous memories and music. That they all came out of it and are still going strong as solo artists. It took a lot out of them all. But they did it and they should be proud. 

Thank you again to everyone who contributed to this article in celebration of the 14 year anniversary! The volume of responses and the true effort and heart put into them is a testament to the power of this community. I hope you all are able to celebrate this anniversary in whatever way makes you most happy, whether that be in online spaces, IRL with other fandom friends/family, or on your own in your own way. Thank you for being part of this community, for however long and in whatever capacity.

And to the band: thank you for everything. We owe you so much, and we hope you feel celebrated today and everyday.

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