Manchester Pride sparks furious debate by announcing queer singer Yungblud as ‘secret’ headliner

Yungblud, real name Dominic Harrison, visits Music Choice in 2019 and poses against a background of graffiti while sitting on a sofa

LGBT+ people have been rushing to the defence of Yungblud after he faced a wave of cruel comments following the announcement that he will headline Manchester Pride.

The Doncaster singer-songwriter, who is pansexual, will take to the stage at Manchester Pride on Saturday (28 August). He was announced as a “secret performer” on Friday morning – but it wasn’t long before disgruntled festival-goers shared their dissatisfaction with the decision.

Countless LGBT+ people hit out at Manchester Pride for selecting the queer musician over a more well-known pop superstar, while others were just unhappy organisers had picked a man to perform.

The criticism ranged from the tone-deaf to the outright ridiculous – some queer Manchester Pride-goers were simply unhappy festival organisers had failed to book one of the usual “big pop girls”, while others complained that they had bought tickets.

Many LGBT+ festival revellers defended Yungblud from the army of angry twinks, with many pointing out that it’s actually a sign of progress that an LGBT+ artist has been given a headline slot at Manchester Pride.

Yungblud, who has been dubbed Britain’s biggest pop-punk star, has had a hugely successful career since he released his debut album in 2018. His second album topped the UK album charts, and he has won praise from the likes of Dave Grohl for his pioneering approach to his craft.

Yungblud rounds out the ‘boldest, queerest, most diverse’ Manchester Pride yet

In a statement, Manchester Pride said Yungblud represented “the final piece of the puzzle” in putting together the “boldest, queerest, most diverse and inclusive Manchester Pride Festival yet”.

“He’s huge right now and we know that he will bring something very new, exciting and queer to our First Street stage this weekend,” the festival said.

Manchester Pride announced the news on Twitter on Friday morning (27 August), but the tweet was deleted shortly afterwards.

The festival shared the news again at 10am, writing: “We’re THRILLED to announce that LGBTQ+ singer songwriter Yungblud will be performing at MCR Pride Live!! We CANNOT WAIT for Yungblud to bring that pansexual, alt rock, pop punk representation to Manchester Pride festival!”

Other artists set to take to the stage on Saturday include Sigala, Katy B, Example, Eve and Mykki Blanco, while Zara Larsson, Ella Henderson, Gabrielle, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Lucy Spraggan, Jodie Harsh, Shura and many others will perform on Sunday.

Yungblud first came out as pansexual and polyamorous in December 2020, having previously described himself as “very fluid” but “more straight”.

In a recent interview with Hunger magazine, the 24-year-old singer reflected on his decision to come out, saying he wanted to “own these labels”.

“I was just like with it all; ‘I’m pan, you know what I’m saying?’ It doesn’t matter what genitalia you’ve got or what you identify as, if I love you, I love you and that’s it, and that’s (something) I’ve struggled with my whole life, because I didn’t know what I was,” he said.

“I couldn’t quite put a label on it, then I learned about pansexuality from magazines and the internet and I think it’s so beautiful that sexuality has really come to the forefront of my generation’s mind, that you can be beautifully yourself.

“What I want to encourage with my message is that no matter what you are, no matter how you want to express yourself, you are individual and you are beautiful just by simply existing. I wanted to make a stand so that if anyone’s out there scared to come out, they will come out.”

Manchester Pride is taking place this weekend following a storm of controversy over its finances.

Its CEO has faced calls to resign after it dropped a life-saving safer sex scheme, and a BBC investigation revealed it had reduced its charitable donations before the pandemic, despite making record-breaking amounts of revenue.

Critics have accused Manchester Pride of behaving like a music festival, rather than an LGBT+ charity. It has promised to conduct a “transparent review” of its purpose and finances.