From Judy Garland to Britney Spears, pop artists have often been heralded as gay icons. They have provided us with hits for the club and many, like Lady Gaga and Madonna, have used their platform to fight for gay rights. Several of her peers are fierce allies in their own right, but Ariana Grande’s advocacy is unmatched. While her catalog is filled with gay staples -- try to spend a night out in Hell’s Kitchen or WeHo without hearing “Into You” -- her support for the LGBTQ community extends beyond the dance floor. Here are eight reasons why the ponytailed princess is the poised to be the gay icon of her generation.
1. Her "Break Free" Video
“Break Free” is arguably the song that made Ariana break into the hearts and playlists of gays everywhere. With it’s bumping beat and empowering chorus, the song peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and cemented her place on rotation at gay bars forevermore. However, it was the music video that established her as the gay icon of a generation. From the pink-hued alien planet to her now signature knee-high platform boots, the “Break Free” video is a campy gay fantasy. Ariana went even further, featuring a gay alien couple kissing -- because why not?
2. Her Love for Her Brother
It’s no secret that Ari’s big bro Frankie is out-and-proud. In an interview with Ryan Murphy, who featured her in Scream Queens, she expressed that she was raised in a very accepting household, where being gay wasn’t considered anything out of the ordinary. After her brother came out, she would often get incensed at any bigotry thrown his way. “It’s outrageous to me when I see people hate on someone because of their sexuality. I hate the intolerance. I hate the judgment. I hate it so much. Most of my favorite people in my life are gay. It’s something I’m super passionate about, because whenever I would see my friends get bullied, or my brother get hurt for his sexuality, I would become a raging lunatic. I would literally become a raging lunatic because I just can’t take it.” In an interview with The Telegraph she spoke about breaking away from her Catholic roots during her teen years, due mostly to the Church’s anti-gay stance.
3. Her Diana Ross Sample
Smack dab in the middle of her 2014 album My Everything is a little tune called “Break Your Heart Right Back.” While the sample of Diana Ross’ gay anthem “I’m Coming Out” is enough to perk up any gay’s ears, the subject matter will have them screaming: Based on an experience she’s “99.9 percent sure” happened to her, “Break Your Heart Right Back” is about a guy cheating on her with another guy. It takes a true icon to turn a shady situation into a real banger.
4. Her "Side to Side" Lyrics
The lyrical content of this song alone propels Miss Grande above her peers. She tells us she’s “been here all night, been here all day” waiting for the man that’s got her “walking side to side.” In other words, she’s getting that good-good. And if the lyrics weren’t explicit enough, rap goddess Nicki Minaj comes in with a verse that will have you Googling “wrist icicle.” Word to the prudish: Don’t.
5. Her Céline Dion Impression
It’s not very often that one comes across a voice like Ariana’s. She can belt into the stratosphere and instantly pop into an effortless whistle tone. Her adaptable voice can also bend to sound like another artist’s. While all of her impressions -- from Britney Spears to Rihanna -- are flawless, one takes the cake: Céline Dion. First seen on a 2015 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, her impression of Dion’s signature cheer-inducing ad-libs is iconic.
6. Her Pride Performance
Her 2015 Pride performance in New York City was one for the history books. Happening just days after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, everyone was in incredibly high spirits and ready to celebrate this milestone for the LGBTQ community. Ariana was the headline performer for the 29th Annual Dance on the Pier, and her performance kept the spirit of the day alive. Along with her own hits, she performed two gay classics, Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” and Madonna’s “Vogue,” surrounded by shirtless dancers doodled with gay artist Keith Haring-style drawings painted on their bodies. She went on to lambast the Supreme Court justices who voted against legalizing gay marriage, shouting, “Make some noise if you think the Supreme Court justices who voted against gay marriage should get their heads out of their f---ing asses and join the goddamn celebration!” Yaaaas, queen!
7. Her One Manchester Benefit
After the bombing at her May 22 concert in Manchester, U.K., Ariana went above and beyond to comfort and help the victims of the terrorist attack. With her One Manchester Concert, held earlier this month, she raised over $10 million for the injured and families of the 22 fans killed in the attack. During the concert she sang Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” with Miley Cyrus, as well as LGBTQ classic “Over the Rainbow.” When asked why she was committed to going back to Manchester for the concert, she stated, "They're trying to make us scared and make us live in fear and we can't play into their hands. We can't. They want us to hate each other and cross divide communities and we can't, we can't let that happen. We can't do that." It’s courage to always stand up for what’s right that makes Ariana Grande extra special.
8. Her Genuine Love for the Community
In a 2014 interview with The Riff, Ariana was asked about her thoughts on being considered a gay icon. Her response? “That’s my favorite thing anyone’s ever said to me in my entire life.” While some gay icons seem to take their LGBTQ audience for granted, it’s nice to know Ariana appreciates just how voracious the love from her gay fans is.