Ariana Grande has been named the gay icon of her generation, causing some to question whether a straight person can be considered an icon for the LGBT+ community.
Billboard has bestowed the title on Ms Grande, and given eight reasons to justify her selection. These include her support of her gay brother Frankie, the lyrics to her sex anthem ‘Side to Side’, and her Pride performances.
Other justifications on the list are, admittedly, a little tenuous. Are sampling Diana Ross or doing a (brilliant) Céline Dion impression gay icon credentials?
When the story was posted earlier this week, many people took to the internet to express their frustrations.
One user asked: “How is Ariana the gay icon of the generation? What about RuPaul? What about the Babadook? What about an actual gay person?”
she is not part of the lgbt community
— ileana Lara (@Ileana_lara) July 21, 2017
dont @ me but ariana grande doesnt deserve to be called a “gay icon” shes fucking straight how is a straight girl a gay icon
— hair sockets 🐍 (@nyxate) July 19, 2017
8 reasons why Ariana Grande is not the gay icon of her generation:
1. she is straight
2. she is straight
3. she is straight
4. she is stra https://t.co/RAm5rHMoTc
— ella of themyscira (@brosandprose) July 19, 2017
Ariana Grande tolerating her intolerable brother doesn’t make her a gay icon
— stirling (@samjstirling) July 20, 2017
How is Ariana the gay icon of the generation? What about RuPaul? What about the Babadook? What about an actual gay person?
— alfred (@alfredmywings) July 21, 2017
I love ariana with all my heart, but she’s not a gay icon. She’s an amazing supporter of lgbtqa+ rights, but none the less, she’s straight
— hannah (@jurassichoweIl) July 21, 2017
However, this isn’t exactly shocking news. Ariana Grande is the latest in a long line of women who have been given similar status.
Historically, a gay icon has been a high-profile figure in the world of entertainment with whom LGBT+ people identify with. The majority of these figures (Judy Garland, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand) are straight, cisgender women. They are referred to as gay icons not because they have lived the LGBT+ experience, but because they empower their LGBT+ fans through their music and performances.
Furthermore, the best thing about gay icons is that we get to choose them for ourselves. You don’t think Ariana Grande is a gay icon? That’s absolutely fine, she doesn’t have to be yours. I love Judy Garland, but none of my friends do – and that’s fine too. But nobody gets to tell you which artists you should or should not idolise as an LGBT+ person.
gay twitter: ariana grande is a gay icon!
billboard: ariana named gay icon
gay twitter: WTF YOU COULDN’T CHOOSE AN ACTUALLY GAY PERSON?!?!?!
— Butt Stallion (@ChrisMySass) July 20, 2017