MNEK Addresses Criticism of Ariana Grande's Manchester Pride Slot: 'You Need to Buy LGBTQ Artists' Music'

Joseph Okpako/WireImage
MNEK performs on stage on Day 1 of Fusion Festival 2018 at Otterspool Parade on Sept.1, 2018 in Liverpool, England.  

For the last week, Ariana Grande has been embroiled in controversy surrounding her headlining position at this year’s Manchester Pride. Her position as a straight artist headlining an LGBTQ Pride festival -- along with the subsequent rise in this year's ticket prices -- led to Grande and fellow headliner Olly Alexander of Years & Years weighing in on the debate.

Pop singer and songwriter MNEK also decided to speak up on the matter, in a video posted on his Twitter account, in which he said the real crime in this scenario was the lack of true support for LGBTQ music. “Here’s what I’m gonna say; if you guys are gonna go all up in arms about Ariana headlining Manchester Pride and LGBTQ artists not headlining Manchester Pride, you need to buy LGBTQ music,” he said. “And buy their concert tickets. And support LGBTQ artists. Very simple. Period.”

The “Tongue” singer went on in a series of tweets to say the LGBTQ community needed to uplift a queer artist to a superstar level, referencing a recent Troye Sivan interview, in which he said the community doesn’t have a queer equivalent of Beyoncé. “Until there is that, an outwardly flamboyant global superstar to represent our community -- only THEN can the gays start opening their mouths talmbout ‘wHy ArIaNa,’” he wrote.

Years & Years' Alexander commented on the controversy on Thursday (Feb. 28), similarly saying that the LGBTQ community needed to support their own artists before complaining about straight artists like Grande performing at Pride events. “Can’t stress this enough — if more people listened to and supported LGBT+ artists — they’d get more slots,” he wrote.

Grande also issued a response on Wednesday (Feb. 27), saying that while she understood the collective frustration, she wanted to be able to perform for her LGBTQ fans. "I want to celebrate and support this community, regardless of my identity or how people label me,” she wrote on Twitter about her emotional return to the English city that was the site of a May 2017 terror attack that killed 22 of her fans. “And also I wanna visit a city that means so much to me.”

The "Thank U, Next" singer added in her statement that she had little control over ticket prices. Ahead of Grande's announcement, Manchester Pride revealed that weekend passes to the event would cost £70.95 ($93,81), a nearly £40 increase from the previous year's highest-priced weekend tickets. According to Manchester Evening News, event coordinators for the festival justified the price hike by saying they would be offering "the biggest line up of artists we’ve ever had, for less than the price of a single concert ticket."

MNEK closed his Twitter thread by adding that blame lies not only with fans, but with music executives as well. “The suits need to put their money where their mouth is and give their lgbtq artists what craft deserve [sic],” he wrote. “Monetarily, creatively - whatever needs to be done.”

Check out MNEK’s full thoughts on the Manchester Pride controversy below: