Ariana Grande is no stranger to controversy and she has responded to online criticism from members of the UK’s LGBTQ+ community following the announcement that she would headline Manchester’s annual Pride celebration.
One Twitter user expressed their disapproval with Grande being named the headline of Manchester Pride. Their criticism ended up going viral, racking up over 14,000 retweets at press time.
“Ariana headlining pride when she’s straight (as far as we’re all aware) and doubling the price of tickets kinda smells like exploitation of the lgbt community to me,” the Twitter user wrote.
idk .... ariana headlining pride when she’s straight (as far as we’re all aware) .... and doubling the price of tickets .... kinda smells like exploitation of the lgbt community to me .....
— (@raininjulyvinyl) February 25, 2019
Grande responded to the viral tweet within 3 hours of it being issued. In the tweet, she clarified that she does not determine the price of tickets and that she wants to support and celebrate the community.
i saw many people discussing this so i wanted to chime in.... hope that’s okay pic.twitter.com/7joiZwI1QS
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) February 27, 2019
“Over the years, pride events have been headlined by performers and artists of all sexual orientations and genders, including straight allies like Cher and Kylie Minogue,” Grande wrote. “I do think there’s room for us to talk about these issues without equating a performance *for* an LGBTQ audience with exploitation of the LGBTQ community.”
She added, “I’m not claiming to be the hero of the community or the face of the LGBTQ rights movement — I just wanna put on a show that makes my LGBTQ fans feel special and celebrated and supported. That’s all I wanna do.”
Grande added in her statement that she’s very excited to return to Manchester. In May 2017, a bombing at the Manchester Arena during one of the singer’s concerts killed 22 attendees. Grande returned in June 2017 to host a benefit concert for the victims’ families.
The controversy coincided with the publication of a Billboard article arguing that Pride festivals have a responsibility to hire LGBTQ+ talent to perform at their festivals rather than straight allies like Grande. The article was published prior to the criticism of Grande.
“Heterosexual one-hit wonders far outpace rising queer artists when it comes to booking these events. That fact should be alarming,” the article reads. “Even at the festivals created to celebrate the queer experience, LGBTQ artists are not being given the spotlight that they deserve. Instead, event boards habitually favor straight performers, seeing them as being more marketable over queer artists — a sentiment that echoes through the music industry.”
Billboard specifically pointed to LA Pride as an example of a celebration that highlights LGBTQ+ artists. In 2018, the festival hired out queer artists Tove Lo and Kehlani to headline.