The announcement that Ariana Grande will be the headline act at Manchester Pride 2019 has been met with widespread criticism, stemming from the fact she’s straight, and that her appearance is being blamed for the event’s extortionate ticket prices. Last year, a weekend ticket cost just £30, but this has now sky-rocketed to £71. This has led to allegations that Manchester Pride has become overly commercialised, and that members of the LGBTQ+ community who want to attend are being financially exploited.
Whilst the fact that a Pride celebration is so expensive is a huge concern, it seems that Grande is being held solely accountable for the increased ticket prices. In reality, as she herself has made clear, it is Manchester Pride’s organisers who have the most say on ticket prices. They might be using Grande’s performance as an excuse to make tickets even pricier, but ticket prices have actually been gradually rising for the past few years. The cynic in me feels that Grande is probably perfectly happy to accept the large pay check she will receive for appearing at such a lucrative event, but let’s not forget that her appearance is simply justification for speeding up a price raise that was going to happen eventually anyway. If we’re calling people out for the fact Pride is now unaffordable for many working-class people, the first people who deserve criticism are Manchester Pride’s organisers. Plus, tickets for Grande’s upcoming tour are selling for over £100, so it could be argued that buying a Pride ticket is actually a relatively economical way to see her perform, especially if fans purchase a one-day ticket, costing less than £40.
The other issue raised by Grande’s appearance is her sexuality, with some suggesting the headline spot at a Pride event should be reserved for LGBTQ+ acts, in order to ensure the community is well-represented. Yet, I’ve always thought that allies ought to be welcome at Pride events, provided they have actively shown support for the community.
Several of Grande’s songs have been described as having ‘pro-LGBT’ lyrics, and Grande left the Catholic faith after growing uncomfortable with the church’s thoughts on LGBTQ+ people. She is extremely supportive of her gay brother, and criticised US supreme court judges who voted against legalising gay marriage, whilst performing at a Pride event in New York City.
Grande also shares a personal connection with the city of Manchester, as her concert at Manchester Arena was attacked by a suicide bomber in 2017. Since the attack, she has expressed her love for Manchester on several occasions, most notably when she hosted ‘One Love Manchester’, a benefit concert intended to support victims of the bombing.
If the organisers of Manchester Pride had to choose a straight headline act, I think few acts would be more appropriate than Grande, with her links to the city and passionate support for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s just a shame that they’ve used the appearance of a high-profile celebrity to ‘justify’ such extortionate ticket prices.