The last couple of days have really reminded me of what summer feels like (thanks, global warming). I long for the day I can pull my short shorts out of the bottom of the wardrobe, sit in a beer garden, and waste the day away. Summer also means Pride — the best celebration of all. However, it's not even Pride season yet and Manchester Pride has come under some serious scrutiny, most recently due to the announcement that Ariana Grande will headline in 2019. Following a discussion about her performance on Twitter Ariana Grande has responded to her Pride critics.
The organisers of Manchester Pride first came under fire after it was revealed that tickets for a full weekend pass would be £71. That's up from £30 in 2018. Now believe me when I say, I adore Manchester Pride. Year on year it's great without fail, but £71 is pretty steep from where I'm sitting. Then after the announcement that Grande would be headlining the weekend some fans suggested the LGBT community was being exploited by her appearance, sparking a discussion around the event, its pricing, and its choice of performers.
Grande responded on Twitter, explaining the reasoning behind her decision to appear. “The LGBTQ community has been so special to me and supportive throughout my career," she wrote. "The relationship I have with my LGBTQ fans, friends, and family make me so happy. I want to celebrate and support this community, regardless of my identity or how people label me.” The singer also emphasised her connection to Manchester and argued it isn’t the first time, and certainly won’t be the last, that a straight ally has headlined a Pride event.
While some have argued that Grande’s performance will draw in crowds who aren’t there to support and celebrate the LGBTQ community, paying for tickets simply to see Grande perform, for me it's Grande’s intentions for being there that are important. As a bisexual woman I feel Grande has shown herself to be a loyal LGBTQ ally. Manchester won’t be the first time she has headlined a Pride event, she took centre stage in New York in 2015. Her performance came days after the Supreme Court legalised gay marriage in the U.S..
In her response to fans on Twitter she highlighted, “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. I do think there’s room for us to talk about this issues without equating a performance *for* an LGBTQ audience with exploitation of the LGBTQ community.”
It also seems symbolic that Grande will return to Manchester. After the Manchester terror attacks in May 2017 home felt a little different for me. The dry sense of humour and eternal optimism that I think of when I think of home and so embodies Manchester was shaken. Grande's One Love concert to raise money for survivors was a massive way to bring the city back together. She is so loved here. My dad, a '70s rock and roll through-and-through kind of man, still thinks of Grande as "a really lovely girl." The fact that she can come back here, under completely different, far more positive circumstances is something that should be celebrated.
Pride is about lifting up a community and individuals who are so often overlooked in mainstream media and society. I am no stranger to being made to feel like my sexuality is invalid or invisible. The issue of ticket pricing at Manchester Pride 2019 is massive. Making an event that is supposed to be about inclusivity and representation so expensive is contradictory. Get angry about it — I know I am.
However, do I think Grande is directly responsible for making the weekend so expensive? No. If you are going to get mad, direct it at the Pride powers that be. And if Grande’s presence means there will be thousands of people dancing down Manchester’s Canal Street to "Seven Rings" this summer, then you better believe I will be bringing glitter for all.