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Ariana Grande named ‘the gay icon of her generation’

By Ross Semple

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?”

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.

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