Ariana Grande has been announced as the headline act for Manchester Pride this year, a move which suits only Grande and those who benefit from the price tickets being doubled. The move has infuriated many in the queer community and rightly so. Pride has lost its way.
Pride was never supposed to be a party. Pride was always a protest. The first Pride march was organised by bi activist Brenda Howard. Pride was always about freedom of expression and protesting fiercely for queer rights. It is not a concert and should never be treated as such.
The very first thing that any Pride should deliver is accessibility, but Manchester Pride has become more and more expensive over the years. This year’s ticket prices are at £71 and that’s a £30 increase on 2018. Pride should be free. Queer people are more likely to live in poverty, and people should not have to pay to go to a protest to their own rights.
“Pride was never supposed to be a party. Pride was always a protest”
Grande obviously has a powerful emotional connection to Manchester after the arena bombings. This has not come from a place of malice. It is easy to believe that she thinks she’s genuinely helping and giving something to Manchester, and to herself by maintaining such a connection with the city. However, this is a decision that is ultimately going to be harmful to the queer community and to what Pride is. Over the years, banks, the police and corporations have taken a greater prominence in Pride across Europe and the US. These are forces though that queer politics have always stood in opposition to. The police are a power that has historically been used to harass, arrest and intimidate queer people. Capitalism has also sought to oppress queer people, and still is which is why so many queer people live in poverty.
Pride was a protest but today’s obsession with chasing capitalism, building up power through capital and keeping queer assets and resources only for narrowly defined ‘LGBT’ people (which erases pan, ace, aro and intersex people and other queer people) has taken us far away from the radical roots of what queer politics meant. Grande headlining Manchester Pride is just the latest demonstration of that. The decision is wrong for the queer community. Pride should get back to what it was meant to be.