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Ariana Grande lyrics spark sexuality conversation

by Shelby Toth - Executive Editor
Thu, Apr 11th 2019 04:15 pm

Ariana Grande is a unique figure in the LGBTQ community. While she has never publicly stated her sexuality, she has expressed on social media multiple times that she doesn’t feel the need to do so. Assuming she is straight, she could have acted as a Beyoncé-like figure in the gay community: being straight but putting out music and messages that become adopted into queer culture despite their heterosexual origins. However, Grande has faced backlash on multiple occasions this year for queerbaiting, as she is entering herself into the community in ways that, if she is straight, are detrimental to the LGBTQ movement.

 

Most recently, Grande is under scrutiny for the lyrics to her new song, “Monopoly.” The song, released on April 1, features both Grande and one of her best friends Victoria Monet. The song includes the lyrics “I like women and men” before moving on to continue the predominant themes of working hard and being rich, essentially. The lyric immediately caught people’s attention though, and it is no surprise it did.

 

According to USA Today, many people took to Twitter to post comments insinuating that Grande was bisexual and that the lyrics proved it. Others tweeted that she didn’t need to confirm her sexuality, prompting Grande to comment on one such tweet “i haven’t before and still don’t feel the need to now… which is okay.”

 

Have we learned nothing by 2019? Sexualities differing from straight are becoming more and more commonly seen and accepted, and trying to coerce anyone into coming out when they haven’t yet will do nothing to further the community. Yet, Grande has also taken other actions this year that have made fans call her sexuality into question.

 

On February 7, Grande released the much anticipated video for her song “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” off her album “thank u, next.” For the most part, the video kept to the theme of the song, showing Grande seemingly pining after a man who’s always been with his girlfriend. For a surprise twist ending, however, Grande goes in to kiss the girlfriend instead of the guy.

 

According to Washington Blade, an American LGBT news source, fans were quick to accuse Grande of queerbaiting. Many were wondering why Grande chose to include that bit, as it perpetuated the idea of queerness being “shocking” or different. One tweet from @saintmctel read “i understand what the ending of Ariana’s video is supposed to mean but i really don’t like how she is riding this wave of rumors that she’s bi or whatever when she’s a straight woman. gay ppl aren’t a trend and kissing a girl is not something to bait [women who love women]/the lgbt community [with].”

 

People being gay isn’t shocking anymore. LGBTQ community members are tired of being seen as something new and interesting. The community needs actual representation, like with “Love, Simon,” or countless other LGBTQ artists singing about their loves. Throwing in a surprise kiss between women at the end of the music video in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene is not representation.

 

While these can be seen as small brushes with the LGBTQ community, Grande is set to take up a starring role in one of the biggest community events of the year. It was announced in late February that Grande would be headlining Manchester Pride. The city itself is special to Grande, as it was the location of a suicide bombing that took place two years ago at one of her concerts.

 

According to USA Today, many people were upset when it was announced that Grande would be headlining pride. Many pointed out that she is currently straight-identifying, as she is yet to confirm anything else, and that the ticket prices for pride doubled from last year to this year. Others pointed out that this contributes to “commodifying” pride, and making it into a music festival instead of honoring the rich history of protest behind pride.

 

Grande took to Twitter again to address the concern, posting a screenshot of a message written on her notes app. Within the message she explained that she had no influence on what the ticket prices would be, and that she wanted to support the community and provide them with a show that “makes [her] lgbtq fans feel special and celebrated and supported.” She also pointed out that previous pride headliners have not necessarily been LGBTQ community members, such as Kylie Minogue and Cher, but still have strong love and support for the community.

 

Sexuality, more than ever before, is being seen as fluid. People are not required to confirm their sexual orientation, including celebrities. That being said, anyone who calls themselves an ally to the LGBTQ community should be mindful about how their actions affect the community and aware of some of the battles and macroaggressions the community goes through. Yes, Grande should be able to release a song discussing liking both men and women without needing to speak on the lyric or define her sexuality. But queerbaiting is a serious problem, and she should be aware of what she is doing, even if she doesn’t mean to hint at a differing sexuality maliciously.