By Erin Caine

Lifestyle Editor

For nearly three decades now, the pride parade in Manchester, England has annually attracted thousands of people to Canal Street.

Headlining Manchester Pride in August is pop superstar Ariana Grande, who has been consistently topping the charts since her debut in 2013.

Especially after her two most recent albums, she’s all anyone can seem to talk about right now.

Grande’s performance in Manchester two years ago preceded a harrowing and deadly attack on the city’s arena, and so her return is certain to be quite an emotional experience.

The news, however, has been met with ambivalence and disapproval from some members of the LGBTQ community. Many have taken to social media to voice concerns about the decision and its consequences.

The 25-year-old singer is facing backlash for driving up Manchester’s ticket prices. The price of admission last year was £30, or $40. This year, however, the price rose to £71, or around $95.

Some see this as the organizers of the event exploiting the community and diminishing LGBTQ voices, while others wonder if Grande’s super-status will fill the venue with more Ariana fans than with those who have genuinely come to celebrate LGBTQ pride.

The decision has also raised the question of whether or not pride parades today have become, in essence, indistinguishable from music festivals, and if that’s something we should be deeply concerned about.

Grande took to Twitter to respond to some of the criticisms that came out of news of her headlining the event, first making it clear that she doesn’t have control over the prices of the tickets.

She then spoke at length of her appreciation of the support of her LGBTQ fans, and said that all she wants is to “celebrate and support [the LGBTQ] community” in return.

Grande added, “I do think there’s room for us to talk about these issues without equating a performance for an LGBTQ audience with exploitation.”

She pointed out that other high-profile straight allies, such as Cher and Kylie Minogue, have performed at Pride in the past.

The statement appeased some hopeful attendees while others remain skeptical.

No matter how one artist might feel about the        LGBTQ community, after all, it’s impossible to account for the varied attitudes and behaviors of her fans.

It’s still pretty worrying to some to consider any influx of people who are there on Canal Street just for the music, or even an influx of people who are openly and potentially dangerously homophobic.

There’s something to be said, as well, of the potential for accessibility to pride events to decrease even more in the future—in other words, the advent of exclusivity for the sake of profits.

It might be time to wonder if the core message of Pride is getting lost in the fervor of celebration.

The Elm

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