Posted by: jenbollinger4614 | March 15, 2019

Representing on behalf of a minority is not okay- why do we continue to enable it?

A few weeks ago, I was getting ready for bed and going through my normal night time routine of checking social media. Manchester Pride had announced that Ariana Grande would be headlining the event, which sparked criticism among the LGBT community. Also, the ticket prices from 2018 to 2019 nearly doubled because of the high profile artist that would be headlining. Grande has gained popularity among pop fans, feminists, and gays by creating empowering songs for women that focus on self-love and embracing your identity. But many people were confused why a straight-identifying artist was going to be headlining an event that’s purpose is to celebrate the LGBT community.

“idk… ariana headlining pride when she’s straight (as far as we’re all aware) …. and doubling the price of tickets …. kinda smells like exploitation of the lgbt community to me …..” was written by one twitter user that gained popularity.

This event lead me to think about the discussions we had in class pertaining to marginalized groups being tokenized and used by means of benefitting others. In particular, people of the LGBT community felt exploited – that Pride was becoming commodified and based around profiting rather than celebrate LGBT people, Pride’s mission. Grande responded, “Hi, my love. I have nothing to do with ticket pricing – Manchester pride sets those rates, and they’re mostly out of my control. The LGBTQ community has been so special to me and supportive throughout my entire career” to the tweet. I thought that her response to the criticism was mature and well planned, but unfortunately her actions did not reflect upon her intentions correctly. I can understand why she feels confident in representing a community that she supports and loves, but why make her the headlining artist?

Grande has been a pop icon and role model for many in the LGBT community, but some worry that her being the event’s headlining artist will bring out those who are harmful to the community. Of course every large public event has this potential, but someone with such a large following and popularity has higher risk of attracting racists, homophobes, and many other extremist groups that intend to harm the LGBT community.

The backlash is understandable, who wouldn’t question why Pride, an event celebrating a large group of marginalized people, would not be headlined and represented by a member belonging to their own group? There are many artists that are part of the LGBT community that were not offered the opportunity, which was another upsetting factor for the community. As we all know, no one can ever make everyone happy… but do you think that Grande made a proper response to the public? If not, how do you think she could have made the situation better? Should Manchester Pride have responded to the backlash and replaced the headlining artist with a representative of the LGBT community?

In all, I believe that this whole situation of underrepresentation is being ignored by the corporation and is sending a message that this is acceptable. We need to make examples out of injustices and raise awareness about getting those marginalized groups a seat at the table, having their voices heard. The LGBT community has suffered far too long and fought far too hard to get to where they are today, so why continue to ignore the unfairness? Though the idea of representation of all minority groups should be implemented in our own society, we have to start somewhere. Why not now?

here is a brief article explaining the situation:


  1. I agree with I think this issue is being ignored, because this issue definitely needs to be addressed. I understand that they want someone famous and on the rise to promote this event in order to gain more people, however they could have easily picked someone famous of the LGBT community. I think Grande gave the best response she could have, but again she has other people supporting her so it still does not make a lot of sense that she is the person for the job. I do wonder who is to blame for this though, because I don’t think Grande is. I do agree with that the LGBT community has suffered too long and they definitely deserve better than this.

  2. While I do think the underrepresentation is an issue, I think hiring Grande was an opportunity to showcase the importance of allies. Grande, while straight, is a big supporter of the LGBT community and her being so popular could help promote the importance of alliances between the heterosexual and LGBT community that we desperately need. While it would have been great to have the headlining act be someone from within the community, it also promotes exclusion. That people who aren’t LGBT cannot participate in celebrating the community. This has happened before, where I and my other straight friends went to pride, not to exploit it, but to show support and got commented on for either lying about our sexuality or having no right to be there. This kind of behavior does not help either community in moving forward. Grande did the best that she could about responding to the tweet, but if we look at this as an opportunity for strong alliances to form, we can ignore and possibly prevent any hate that may come from it. It’s all about changing the perspective.

    • I agree with your comment, Libby. I think that excluding Ariana Grande from the opportunity would have been promoting exclusion. I do not know much about Pride, but from my point of view, it is about including everyone whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or straight. First of all, Ariana was chosen by Pride to headline, so I don’t think that it was wrong of her to accept it even though she is straight. From her point of view, she was offered this amazing opportunity to give back to an organization that supports her. To take away the opportunity, it would do exactly what the organization is attempting to combat- excluding people based on their sexual orientation. However, if it was an artist that expressed homophobic words or actions, I could absolutely understand taking away the opportunity. Ariana supports the organization and just wants to give back.

  3. I agree with you as well Libby. While it would have made sense to have someone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ community headline, I don’t see a problem with Grande taking on that role. As you said, she is showcasing the importance of allies and showing that people from outside the community can support the cause as well. While I think it is wrong for minority groups to be marginalized and tokenized, it seems to me that having Grande headline the event would benefit them more than it would benefit her. She already has a huge fan base and the LGBTQ community supports her, so I’m not really sure that she really needed to do this. The fact that the ticket prices went up says to me that Grande drew in more people to come to the event, which only makes the event more successful. Her fame only drew more attention to the event, which seems to help them more than it helps her.

  4. This article and post stands out because this situation can be thought of and taken in so many different ways, from Grande allying herself with her LGBT fans to her tokenizing the community as a whole by pandering to a seemingly straight artist. What I do think is interesting is that much of the backlash is directed at Grande herself, rather than the Manchester Pride organization. The fact that those in charge of the event even considered an artist like Ariana Grande for this event shows that they might be in it more for the money and publicity rather than the representation of LGBT pride. Personally, I agree that Grande had a proper response to the backlash, and it is entirely possible that she accepted the offer without thinking about the potential for outcry. I think that my biggest issue with this is that Manchester Pride is a ticketed event with headlining artists (many of whom are not even LGBT, which is the main reason for the event), created more of a music festival that may be overtaken by people who are not the target audience. While allies to this community are important, having a space for LGBT people to celebrate themselves unapologetically seems more vital to me, and having large-scale concerts with big name artists does not seem like the best way to celebrate pride.

  5. Jen, I think this is a very interesting topic that you chose to write about, and one that has many layers. Minority representation is very important for commonly oppressed groups groups to gain recognition on a larger stage. I believe that Grande handled this situation appropriately and voiced her opinions in a very constructive manner. I do agree with Libby about the positive nature of Grande positioning herself as a supportive ally with the LGBT community. On top of that, Grande is also standing up as a mentor and a role model for the LGBT community and its allies. Mentors and role models do not always need to look like us – the fact that Grande is a straight woman does not preclude her from being a great role model and mentor figure for this community. For example, a similar notion could be held for a minority woman who has a white male as one of her role models or mentors in the work place. A positive and progressive relationship can still take place even though the two have different backgrounds, life experiences, and have faced different hardships. While it would have been wonderful if Manchester Pride had chosen to give the stage to an LGBT performer, in this situation, I believe that less emphasis should be placed on Grande’s social identities and more on the work that she has done to ally herself with this community.

  6. I do not believe that it was a bad choice for Manchester Pride to pick Ariana Grande to headline, I do however not think that it was the right one. From what I have seen on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Ariana Grande has been a huge supporter of the LGBT community but having her headline an event celebrating the community seems weird. There are many, just as famous, artists that Manchester Pride could have picked instead of Ariana Grande. Maybe make her not the headliner but just a performer. Again she is a role model of inclusion and strength for the LGBT community but she herself is not LGBT. To me this is like making Mark Cuban the coach of the Mavericks instead of the owner. Sure, he understands basketball and supports the team (he pays for everything) but he has no experience coaching a professional basketball team. I do not think it was a bad choice for Pride to do this but I do not think it was the right one either.

  7. I agree that underrepresentation is a significant issue, but I have to agree with some of the people above and say that choosing to have Ariana headline a Pride event is crucial in highlighting the importance of allies. While it would obviously be a mistake to have no LGBTQ artists headlining the pride event, I think that having allies, especially ones who are very outspoken on the issues like Ariana is, is important in showing the different dimensions of the community and the plethora of ways to be involved, even if you don’t identify as LGBTQ. I don’t know the rest of the lineup, but I think that as long as other headliners are members or identify with the LGBTQ community, then it is okay to have a mix of artists like this.

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