Ariana Grande Faces Backlash Over Manchester Pride Performance

It’s confirmed! Grammy award winning pop singer Ariana Grande will be headlining Manchester Pride Festival 2019.

Following much anticipation, Manchester Pride Festival officially tweeted the 2019 line-up, and rumours of Grande’s appearance have been settled once and for all. Meaning the twitter speculation can finally stop – or at least you would think.

Fan theories over how Manchester Pride could fit between Grande’s European Tour have been circulating Twitter for months now. But with the long-awaited confirmation of Grande’s appearance, the Twittersphere seems to have fallen into an even deeper frenzy.

It’s true, news of Grande’s confirmation came as a great surprise to most. However, some members of the LGBT+ community were left feeling confused – and annoyed. Questions over why a straight cis female artist had been chosen to headline a festival aimed at celebrating LGBT+ culture instantly spread online. Worse yet, accusations of Grande as exploiting the LGBT+ community began to flood Twitter.

One Twitter user claimed: “Ariana headlining pride when she’s straight and doubling the price of tickets… kinda smells like exploitation of the lgbt community to me.”

The viral tweet, by Twitter user @raininjulyvinyl, exploded: gaining over 17,500 retweets and 80,000 likes.

Surprisingly, the reference to the new ticket prices as having ‘doubled’ is in fact an understatement. Just last year, festival goers were being charged around £26 for the full main event. Yet this year, queer people wanting to experience the full Pride event will be forced to fork out a huge £70. Leaving many to raise the question online: should queer people really be expected to be charged extortionate amounts to celebrate their culture?

At an ‘Is Pride Still Political?’ talk at the University of Liverpool, LGBT+ activist Sanaz Raji, discussed her thoughts on how Pride was pricing out the poorest members of the community. Many of the LGBT+ community – especially trans people – are in fact homeless and would therefore have absolutely no way of affording this £70 price tag, she said. Raji went on, arguing that the whole mantra of Pride was inclusivity, yet this was sadly being lost to the crushing force that is commercialisation. Raji’s thoughts reflect those of many of Grande’s online critics.

In a response to the backlash, Grande replied to the earlier viral tweet, saying:

“i saw many people discussing this so i wanted to chime in… hope that’s okay,” Grande explained that she simply wanted to “celebrate and support this community”.

The “7 Rings” singer went on to write how she has little control over ticket pricing, this being the responsibility of Manchester Pride itself.

Grande also highlighted how straight singers often perform at Pride events: “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,” she wrote.

The original tweeter of the viral tweet responded to Grande, thanking her for her response and adding: “i completely get where you’re coming from”.

The Twitter altercation between the online user and Grande appears to settle the debate – Grande should not be blamed for the decision of a straight cis female artist headlining a Pride event. Any anger over the decision of her performance, or over the new price tag of Manchester Pride Festival – as justified as it is – should be directed towards Manchester Pride Festival themselves. As in the words of Grande: she had “nothing to do with ticket pricing”.

Grande is set to perform on Sunday 25th August. It will mark an emotional return to the city of Manchester for Grande, having been over two years since the terrorist attack at her concert which claimed 22 lives in May 2017.

Tickets for the event are still on sale online.


Bradley Fletcher-Poole

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