“Straight female pop singers have long held an important place in LGBTQI culture”


Britney, Madonna, and Whitney are instantly recognisable names in their own right – and each of these iconic women holds a special place in the hearts of queer folk all over the world.

Ariana Grande is the latest female pop artist to achieve such an honour.

Ariana has become one of the biggest names in pop in the world and is, by default, an icon for the LGBTQI community. There, I said it.

The release of her much-anticipated new album thank u, next featuring certified bops such as bad idea and bloodline, has earned her a place in the LGBTQI trophy cabinet. 

Here’s the thing about the phrase LGBTQI icon: controversial though it may sound, you don’t have to identify as LGBTQI to be an LGBTQI icon.

Straight female pop singers have long held an important place in queer culture. This fact doesn’t eclipse the work activists have done to further LGBTQI rights.

No one is suggesting that Keith Haring’s work during the AIDS crisis of the 80s means nothing purely because us gays like to dance to a little bit of Britney on a Saturday.

Both artists serve different purposes.

Last Saturday night, I danced away to hits such as Gimme More, Like A Prayer, 7 rings, and thank u, next in The New Penny in Leeds – one of the oldest LGBTQI venues in Britain.

This doesn’t negate the fact that I’m a self-identified socialist; I write on LGBTQI issues; I’ve been fiercely political since before I was allowed to vote, and I’ve appeared at demonstrations and marches up and down the country.

Note: all of these New Penny-shaped bops were written by female pop singers. 7 rings was released a matter of weeks ago, and it’s already being lauded by much of the LGBTQI community as a confirmed queer anthem.

How many times do you think I Feel Love by Donna Summer has been blasted out in LGBTQI venues? I don’t think many gay men or women alike would have many complaints about this point. Donna is a legend.  

Tickets for this year’s Manchester Pride event, which also features names such as Years and Years, Bananarama and Liberty X, currently cost just shy of £50 for a day ticket.

I understand the emotional upheaval about this considering that Pride was formed off the backs of protest and is, thus, supposed to remain as accessible and as inclusive as possible.

I too would take issue with the price of the tickets were this the only Pride event happening in Manchester that weekend. The Pride parade itself is unrestricted and free to attend: it is only the events hosting acts such as Ariana which require a ticket.

This, in my opinion, doesn’t infringe on the ability of anyone to enjoy or attend Manchester Pride. It just means that those who fancy a bit of Ariana can go and see her too.

It was the same principle for Brighton Pride last year: Pride-attendees who wanted to go and see Britney bought a ticket, and those who were happy with the parade and some cheap bevvies on the beach didn’t.

I myself opted for the latter, yet I don’t remember hearing this amount of protest about Britney playing Brighton last year.

Furthermore, Ariana was made an honorary Mancunian following her response to the Manchester Arena bombings in May 2017.

Organising the One Love concert, following her own post-traumatic stress and grief after the attack, as well as paying for the victims’ funerals and offering a general base of support for her fans, Ariana truly dealt with the situation like a superstar.

Why shouldn’t she return to the city to headline its Pride event? The city of Manchester, having dealt with so much pain in the aftermath of the attacks, deserves this.

Ariana herself has no bad intentions, tweeting:

“i’m not claiming to be the hero of the community or the face of the lgbtq rights movement – i just wanna put on a show that makes my lgbt fans feel special and celebrated and supported. that’s all i wanna do.”

There are much more pressing issues, such as LGBTQI homelessness, isolation, and mental health.

thank u, next.

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