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How Beyonce became a cultural icon and inspiration for the Queer community

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

Image of Beyonce at her third Tottenham show. Credit: @Astr0Isha on Twitter

The grammy-award winning star receives praises from fans attending her Tottenham shows for her unwavering support for the LGBTQAI+ community.

Closing her third show in Tottenham, Beyonce commemorated the start of Pride Month (June 1st) with a shout out to the London Queer community – garnering praises on social media for her continuous and open display of support.

“She has always been supportive of the LGBTQI+ community and real fans have known about Uncle Jonny and about how much he has influenced Beyonce,” said fashion stylist Faisal, who attended the show.

“The way in which she has incorporated disco and house into this album with elements of ballroom and vogue culture is just amazing,” said another fan, Kristal, who also attended the show.

Beyonce’s seventh studio album explores house, disco, and dance genres in dedication to Queer pioneers such as Big Freedia, who popularised hip-hop’s bounce sound and the iconic line “Release your job!” in her 2014 anthem, ‘Explode’, which Beyoncé sampled for the single “Break My Soul”.

The album is also an ode to her late gay uncle, Uncle Jonny and before its release last July, Beyonce thanked her uncle for exposing her “to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album” in an open letter to her fans.

Uncle Jonny's favourite genre of music was house which Frankie Knuckles (its 'Godfather') created and popularised during his DJ residency at the Warehouse -- a members only gay club entertaining primarily black and latino locals.

The ‘Lemonade’ artist has alway been vocal about how much Uncle Jonny inspired her and her adoration for him and the LGBTQAI+ community. Uncle Jonny, the nephew of Tina Knowles-Lawson (her mother), played a significant role in the upbringing of Beyonce and her sister, Solange.

During her Destiny’s Child era and early solo career, Uncle Jonny designed and created outfits for Beyonce – which she references with the lyrics, "Uncle Jonny made my dress / That cheap spandex, she looks a mess" in Heated, the album's eleventh track.

Even during her award acceptance speech at the 65th Grammy Awards, Beyonce paid tribute to her uncle and the queer community.

The death of Uncle Jonny after losing his battle with HIV was “one of the most painful experiences I've ever lived,” said Beyonce at the 2019 GLAAD Media Awards. She described Uncle Jonny as “the most fabulous gay man” that she’s ever known.

“[He lived] his truth and was brave and unapologetic at a time when this country wasn't as accepting…I'm hopeful that his struggle served to open pathways for other young people to live more freely,” she added.

This week, Tottenham High Road has been colourful and vibrant as fans poured in to attend Beyonce’s concerts. Many were dressed in outfits inspired by Beyonce’s stage designs and costumes as well as the album’s cover art. Some fans went even further with their fits channelling the Ballroom, Vogue, Camp and Queer fashion and culture.

Images of Beyonce's Tottenham concerts attendees throughout the week. Credit Olivia Opara

Ballroom fashion designers Roy and Mallique’s self-made outfits featured a corset inspired by Beyonce’s shimmering Courreges bodysuit and a glittery silver Gilet inspired by her various silver tour outfits and Ballroom culture.

“When we saw the first night [of Beyonce’s world tour] and how it was like a ball, we said ‘okay, we are going’ and that is why we came like this,” said Mallique

Ballroom culture, is an African-American and Latin American underground Queer subculture that originated in New York City when Black and Latino drag queens began to organise their own pageants in opposition to racism and discrimination within the mainstream drag scene.

The Progressive LGBTQAI+ Flag. Image by BrutallyHonestFREE from Pixabay

“I think with this album, Beyonce has come out with her full chest and said: ‘I am here for the queers’ and when she goes through the pride colours, including the progressive flag – she is saying that she is here for the gay community and for LGBTQAI+ rights,” said fashion enthusiast Charlie.

Fans have hailed Beyonce for encapsulating Queer liberation and being unapologetically one’s authentic self in the Renaissance album.

Flying in from Dallas,Texas to attend the fourth London show, Nahara and Zavier see Beyonce as one of the best representations of African-Americans whose album has helped them reconcile with their self-expression.

“The album is liberating. It is about taking care of yourself and your loved ones and to be boldly you, uniquely you and unashamed of all the different ways that we come into this life,” they said.

“No matter how light or dark you are or how shapely you are or not, you can step into this world, wear whatever you want and look good because you've got that ‘Energy’ within you. So we are thankful for the Renaissance album.”

Chief executive officer and artistic director of Wise Thoughts, a BAME LGBTQI+ led arts charity based in Wood Green, Niranjan Kamatkar said:

“Beyoncé has declared her support to LGBTQI+ community a number of times before.

“Support from a high profile star and singer like Beyoncé means a lot for the empowerment of local young LGBTQI+ community members and particularly for young people of colour, as many consider her as their role model.

“So it’s fantastic to see her perform in Tottenham.”

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