Years & Years' Olly Weighs in On Manchester Pride: If More People 'Supported LGBT Artists, They'd Get More Slots'

Gina Wetzler/Redferns
Olly Alexander of Years and Years performs live on stage during a concert at Palladium on Feb. 6, 2019 in Cologne, Germany.

The frontman shared a statement to Twitter following the controversy surrounding Ariana Grande's headlining slot.

Since announcing Ariana Grande as their main headliner earlier this week, Manchester Pride has been facing controversy for both booking a straight artist as their headliner and for subsequently raising ticket prices.

Fellow headliner Olly Alexander of Years & Years posted a statement early Thursday morning (Feb. 28), talking about his experience with working at Pride festivals and the problems festivals like Manchester are facing today. “I think most LGBT+ people will understand how problematic Pride can be,” he wrote.

The “If You’re Over Me” singer commented on the fact that Pride in and of itself has lost much of its deeper meaning. “Every year we get a couple of days (or.. a month?) and we’re meant to be grateful Starbucks have rainbow cups,” he added. “I’m glad to see ppl demand change, the absence of people of color in these spaces is shamefully obvious.”

Alexander also said that while he agrees that Pride events have a responsibility to bring in LGBTQ artists, he understands the rationale behind their current practices. “I’d love to see more LGBT+ headliners across all bills, [but] the reality is line ups are a mix of artists depending on their availability and the need to sell tickets,” he wrote. “Pride’s [sic] normally raise money so they can put on their events and donate to various (usually local) causes.”

Speaking about Grande’s headlining position, the singer said he felt she earned her perform slot at the event. “Ariana has shown more than most that she cares about us and loves Manchester,” he said. “Does that mean that we shouldn’t try harder to celebrate all the amazing queer talent? No!”

Alexander’s statement came hours after Grande posted her own thoughts on the matter, where the pop star said she still wanted to perform while understanding the criticism she was facing. “I do think there’s room for us to talk about these issues without equating a performance *for* an LGBTQ audience with exploitation of the LGBTQ community,” she wrote.

Finally, Alexander highlighted that the responsibility to uplift LGBTQ artists begins with audiences, saying queer artists would not be booked if no one would listen to them. “Can’t stress this enough — if more people listened to and supported LGBT+ artists — they’d get more slots.”

Read his full statement below.