Should a cisgendered, heterosexual woman headline Manchester Pride?

One of the biggest issues with Ariana Grande headlining is the suspected capitalist agenda. Manchester Pride will be charging around £70 for a weekend ticket to the event, which, in comparison to the previous years’ £30 fee, is absolutely ludicrous. The organiser’s justification for this increase is that they’re offering the biggest lineup of artists ever, i.e. Ariana Grande. This is undoubtedly problematic as instead of developing an inclusive event focused on the celebration of the LBGTQ+ community, Pride seems to be more concerned with its revenue.  

Amelia Trew, President of UEA Pride, states ‘While Ariana Grande is an incredible performer, it is probably not appropriate for her to headline. But it’s not surprising as Pride has lost what it originally stood for as it is now a commercialised event.’

Tracing the movement back, its historical relevance is located in the Stonewall Riots in 1969 whereby 200 patrons in a gay bar resisted police arrest. Soon afterwards the phrase ‘gay pride’ was established. The phrase and the following tradition of events were an attempt to honour the oppressed community, maintaining their basis as a protest.

This begs the question of who should be selected to headline at Pride events. The answer is artists from within the community. It’s wonderful to stand for LBGTQ+ rights and use your platform to do so. However, non-LBGTQ+ artists can never truly know the experience of an LBGTQ+ individual. So, when they accept offers (such as headlining at Pride), good intentions or not, they take an opportunity from a LBGTQ+ artist. It is not hypocritical for the community to want increased representation. Grande can still have a huge impact standing up for LBGTQ+ rights, but this does not justify her headlining.

Jim Read, Vice-President of UEA Pride, said, ‘With the commodified versions of Pride we now see in the mainstream, these would be the perfect platforms to promote LBGT+ artists’.

By choosing Ariana Grande, Pride fails to consider the talent within the LBGTQ+ community and the necessity to promote them to the wider world. Problematically, there is very little representation of LBGTQ+ artists within the mainstream music industry and with the huge platform Pride has now acquired, it would be an excellent moment to demonstrate the LGBTQ+ community’s talent and versatility.

Pride has forgotten what it stands for. It’s no longer a protest fighting for the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. Instead, Pride is succumbing to capitalist temptation. Pride exists in the same realm of popular music festivals: smothered in glitter, splashed with colour, but lacking in substance. Should Grande be headlining in terms of what Pride should represent? No. But Pride is no longer what it once was, and this year’s headline act only confirms this.

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Abbey Hancock

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May 2022
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