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Durham Pride under fire for booking 'blackface' Beyoncé tribute act

Beyonce tribute artist Leanna Harper under fire for using "blackface" to portray the artist in her act.
Photo credit:
Pink News

Durham Pride is taking place this weekend in the UK, but there is controversy surrounding one of its headliners that has people boycotting the event.

Leanna Harper makes her living paying tribute to ex-Destiny’s Child diva Beyoncé, an African American singer and actress.

The problem is that some people are calling Harper's act into question because she is Caucasian and uses what some are calling “blackface” to look more like her idol.

Known as Beeyoncé, Harper has had to maneuver through social media posts and accusations that she is a “reverse racist” because of her choice to darken her facial features with make up.

Her attendance is being promoted through online flyers and other official materials.

The UK’s LGBT publication Pink News wrote that one social media subscriber asked via the Facebook Durham Pride event page, “Can someone please explain to me how this isn’t blackface?”

Another asked, “Blackface is making yourself darker to look like a black person. I’m confused as to how this isn’t that.”

Harper, on the defensive quickly addressed those concerns by telling people not to come to the event if they don’t like it: “If your (sic) offended stay away.”

She added: “should I not be allowed to perform as I am white?”

But Durham Pride has made a statement about the controversy and says the performance will go on as usual with some adjustments to Harper’s "fake tan":

We would like to take this opportunity to respond to concerns raised about the Beyonce tribute act that we have booked for Durham Pride 2017.

We have now had the opportunity to discuss this as a committee and talk to the act in question.

We have not been able to issue a comment to this point due to an ongoing police investigation around hate crime and some of the comments that were made online towards the Durham Pride committee and the act in question.

The Beyonce ac has already apologised for any offence. She has already agreed to perform without the use of fake tan and will take part in Durham Pride.

At Durham Pride we take concerns and complaints very seriously.

We have a thorough complaints procedure in place and we encourage people to tell us if they are not happy with something.

You can email admin@durhamprideuk.org in the first instance and we will respond to your concerns, comments and suggestions, in a reasonable period of time.

Complaints and concerns should be directed through our formal channels so that we can work together to ensure Durham Pride is the best we can make it. We want to reiterate that we have a zero tolerance policy to abuse and we will not accept, condone or endorse abuse of any kind.

We look forward to working with everyone to ensure Durham Pride is the best we can make it, but we hope that you will work with us via our formal channels so that we can work productively together and learn from each other.

At Durham Pride we recognise the difficulties that BME and ethnic communities face in society and within the LGBT community. Durham Pride is for everybody who supports our values of diversity and inclusion. We look forward to working productively with everyone, especially those from BME and ethnic communities, to work towards an inclusive event and County.