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The Paw Print

Renaissance World Tour: Queer representation in popular culture

Simon Zernicki-Glover

Amidst the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ legislation, the present seems fraught for so many young Queer people. Beyoncè’s latest album and tour, “Renaissance,” offers a source of hope and pride. The tour boomed with intricate costume design, exquisite ballroom voguing, and Beyoncè’s all time best vocals.

Beyoncé’s tour seated 2.2 million people in total. The jaw-dropping LGBTQ+ dancers featured in her performances have gained massive amounts of recognition from the tour.

Senior Chloe Palmer attended the show and described it saying, “Simply incredible. Empowering. Unique. Dance-vibes.” She described an electric room, the audience up and dancing through the two and a half hour show.

Despite its extravagance, Renaissance was so much more than just a concert. It paid homage to the very people that contributed to the music industry today, serving as a love letter to the Queer community. In her Grammy acceptance speech, she thanked the Queer community for their love and support and acknowledged that they created the very genre the album lies within, house music.

Born in the vibrant underground clubs of Chicago in the late 1970s, house has roots in Black and Queer communities. It served as a genesis for LGBTQ+ inclusivity. The pulsating beats and soulful vocals transcended boundaries, unifying people on the dance floor. LGBTQ+ DJs such as Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan pioneered the genre.

Beyoncé continues house’s legacy by collaborating with Chicago-born house-music D.J, Honey Dijon, alongside a multitude of house music writers and producers. Through Beyoncé’s platform, many of these Queer artists are finally receiving the mainstream recognition they deserve.

Additionally, the tour amplified the voices of icons of ballroom. Originating in the 1960s LGBTQ+ Black and Latinx communities of New York City, ballroom is an artistic dance subculture. The genre involves voguing – a form of dance that combines fluid, static, and exaggerated movements alongside poses emulating runway models. Voguing serves as a flourishing emblem of self-expression and identity within the LGBTQ+ community.

As an avid RuPaul’s Drag Race enjoyer and “amateur-voguer,” I had never seen such an influx in popularity and interest in the dance form until the tour began.

Beyoncé named her late uncle as a key inspiration for this album. Uncle Johnny, as mentioned in her music, died from an AIDS-related disease. “Renaissance” is in part a celebration of his life. In a line of the song “HEATED” Beyoncé wrote, “Uncle Johnny made my dress. That cheap Spandex, she looks a mess.” This ode to her Uncle alludes to his contribution to the wardrobe designs for Destiny’s Child, a girl group Beyoncé was a part of.

While on a surface level, this seems to be a comedic anecdote on his dress-making skills, in truth, Uncle Johnny symbolizes Queer people as the backbone of pop culture. They have paved the way for everything from the dresses, the music, and so much more. Beyoncé’s homage to her uncle is really an homage to the very foundations of the pop industry.

To this day, Queer music and dance alongside Queer voices are frequently neglected in the mainstream music industry. Beyoncé is helping change that. From the ballroom featured on stage, to the house music icons featured in the album and performances, I find it truly amazing to see such a famous and successful artist use her platform to put ballroom and house music into mainstream pop music.

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About the Contributor
Simon Zernicki-Glover, Assistant Life Editor
Grade: 11 Years on Staff: 3 Fun Fact: I met the queen 5 years ago (no not Nicki Minaj, the dead one). Favorite Book and Movie: Call Me by Your Name
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