All eyes will be on Ariana Grande this summer when she performs at Manchester’s annual LGBTQ Pride celebration a little more than two years after a bombing killed 22 people at her concert in the British city.
Grande confirmed the news on Twitter Monday.
Almost immediately after Grande’s performance was announced, however, some critics pointed out that ticket prices for the 2019 event had apparently doubled from the previous year. In addition, others felt that while Grande has been an outspoken LGBTQ rights advocate for much of her career, an LGBTQ-identifying artist would have been a better choice.
One particularly stinging tweet called the decision “exploitation” of the queer community. As of Thursday, that tweet had received more than 78,000 likes and 16,500 retweets.
By Wednesday afternoon, Grande addressed the backlash with a lengthy note posted on Twitter. In it, she said she aimed “to celebrate and support” the LGBTQ community through the upcoming performance “regardless of my identity or how people label me.”
Pointing to Cher, Kylie Minogue and other stars who have enjoyed sizable LGBTQ fan bases over the years, she added, “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.”
As for those ticket prices, well, Grande said they were “mostly out of my control.”
Grande’s response arrived the same day as the publication of a Billboard article arguing for Pride festivals to tap more LGBTQ artists as headliners.
“The simple truth is that Pride festivals have a responsibility to represent for their audience of LGBTQ people, not those around them,” Billboard’s Stephen Daw wrote. “If we won’t create and uplift our own celebrities, why should anyone else?”
While Daw noted that Grande “should be welcomed with open arms” given her history as an LGBTQ ally, he said, “It is not about booking the biggest names that you possibly can. It is about celebrating what it means to be queer in the modern age.”
“And the best artists to represent that experience are the ones who have lived it,” he added.