Should straight acts with no history of LGBTQ+ advocacy headline Pride events?

Should straight acts with no history of LGBTQ+ advocacy headline Pride events?

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DJ John Summit is headlining one of the biggest dance parties at New York City Pride this year, despite being a straight man with a minimal history of LGBTQ+ advocacy.

The curious decision generated a curious response, especially among those in the gay and electronic dance communities.

“Allies are welcome, but these spaces aren’t intended for you. For context, this is like having an ‘international women’s day’ event and booking Tiësto,” wrote a queer EDM enthusiast on social media.

A commenter on Reddit put their opinion bluntly.

“He is a massive name, but I am surprised that’s who they got since he is very much straight frat bro douche energy,” they wrote.

The DJ discourse begs the question: Should non-LGBTQ+ acts headline Pride events?

Before we go further, it’s important to note that we’re not talking about longtime LGBTQ+ allies like Madonna, Paula Abdul and Kylie Minogue. Beloved pop divas are responsible for many of our favorite gay anthems. Plus, they have decades of advocacy to match their catalogue.

But the question becomes muddier once one considers an artist like, say, Taylor Dayne. The “Tell It To My Heart” singer, who’s performed at Pride events all over the U.S., also sang at a Mar-a-Lago party during the height of COVID.

That’s not OK, and neither was her hasty, typo-ridden non-apology.

“I’m saddened by all this,” Dayne wrote in a now-deleted tweet. “I have a 30 yr careers s that many diverse friendships .and I try to stay non political and non judgmental and not preach . I sing from my heart purely and from Source. I wish for all to be who they need to be .. and find their way.”

Unlike Dayne, Summit has never performed at Mar-a-Lago (though Rudy Giuliani’s reaction to house music would be pretty funny). In fact, he pushed back against homophobic fans who are ripping him for his Pride Week gig.

“Lost a few hundred followers since i announced im playing a gay pride party lmfao peace out u insecure homophobes,” he wrote.

The “Where You Are” spinner followed up his statement of support with the ultimate affirmation.

“idc what u think u cannot deny that the gays know how to fkn PARTY,” he posted.

Right on… bro?

It’s worth noting, those criticizing the promoter’s decision to book Summit are quick to point out their beef isn’t with him.

“No shade to john, as i’m sure he feels honored to be asked to take part in a pride celebration, but he headlines every other space in the world,” wrote @BabyWeightMusic on X Twitter.

The argument about whether Pride events should only showcase LGBTQ+ talent draws some similarities to the long-lasting debate over whether non-queer actors should play queer roles. For decades, there was a dearth out actors in Hollywood, due to widespread homophobia.

With that in mind, some queer folx in the industry don’t think hetero people should play gay characters. “It’s about authenticity,” said Queer as Folk creator Russell T. Davies. “You wouldn’t cast someone able-bodied and put them in a wheelchair, you wouldn’t black someone up. Authenticity is leading us to joyous places.”

Along similar lines, gay people have an authentic claim to house music. The genre was “invented by Black and primary gay DJs in Chicago in the late 1970s and 80s,” as NPR reports.

When Summit was approached with that tidbit, he offered an ambiguous response.

“to be fair i fit that description too hahaha but never once claimed to have started the movement just trying my best to add to it,” he wrote.

So what do you think? Should non-LGBTQ+ people headline Pride events, or should the stage be reserved for out queer artists? Sound off in the comments below…


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