Editorial: Pittsburgh Pride would have one less problem without Iggy Azalea’s performance

Editorial: Pittsburgh Pride would have one less problem without Iggy Azalea’s performance

The Pitt News Editorial Board

May 19, 2015

Iggy Azalea might rap about being fancy, but shortly after the Delta Foundation announced she would be performing at Pittsburgh Pride in the Street on June 13, the LGBT community made it quite clear that they didn’t fancy the white cisgender performer headlining their fest.

Azalea is most widely known as an Australian rapper, songwriter and model, but a growing number of people also know her as a public figure that repeatedly made racist and homophobic comments on her Twitter page a few years ago before she gained mainstream fame. 

A Tumblr blog dedicated to Azalea’s slurs, PiggyAzalea, highlights some of her worst lines on Twitter. 

In October 2010, Azalea tweeted, “When guys whisper in eachothers [sic] ears I always think it’s kinda homo.” 

This tweet is one of many others littered with racially or sexually insensitive content. In a community where acceptance is so pivotal, it’s no shocker that LGBT people felt uncomfortable with Delta paying Azalea to perform at Pittsburgh Pride.

Over 500 members of the local LGBT community joined a Facebook group, “Shut it DOWN (No ICKY at Pride 2015),” in hopes of removing her act from the parade. This dissonance is indicative of the unrest some LGBT members feel in supporting artists that don’t necessarily promote their ideals.

Delta should be more selective in its process for choosing a headliner. The event supports the LGBT community, so it’s important to gain its insight on what sorts of headliners members would definitely like to see and which ones might be offensive or triggering.

While we understand that Delta was trying to book a popular headliner to draw a larger crowd — potentially gaining new allies for the LGBT community — we feel that it’s more merited to endorse a headliner who is valuable to the movement that already exists, rather than cater to potential members and promote the commercialization of LGBT pride events.

Pittsburgh City Paper’s “Blogh” reports that the Delta Foundation did not find Azalea to be racist or homophobic. 

“If we believed that Iggy Azalea was racist or homophobic, we certainly would not have selected her to headline Pittsburgh Pride,” Delta’s statement said. 

Delta continued to list African-American and trans artists that headlined the event in previous years, including Patti LaBelle and Kimberley Locke.

If Delta didn’t find Azalea’s tweets to be homophobic, just what were they, then? The process for selecting artists to play at such an important event needs to be tightened — Pittsburgh Pride engages in a critical dialogue about homosexual, transgender and African-American lives. By booking an artist who makes these people feel uncomfortable, we’re being counterproductive to the larger movement.

Iggy Azalea has publicly apologized for her comments, insisting she is not homophobic or racist. Whether or not this is true, by booking her for Pride, Delta is not promoting diversity in their program. Why not book a black trans woman or someone with less of a platform?

Ultimately, Azalea has plenty of chances to be seen and heard in the public eye, why not lend the mic to a voice that’s been silenced?


Leave a comment.