Beyoncé has paid tribute to O’Shae Sibley, a gay man and dancer stabbed dead at a New York gas station because he was voguing to one of her songs.
Sibley, 28, was attacked at a gas station on Coney Island Avenue, New York, on Saturday (29 July).
According to eyewitnesses, including gas station employee Summy Ullah and close friend Otis Pena, Sibley and his friends were voguing to Beyoncé’s Renaissance when they were approached by a gang of men who aggressively told them to stop dancing and called them homophobic slurs.
Surveillance footage shows Sibley confronting the men before being stabbed. He was later pronounced dead.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) is investigating the incident as a hate crime.
There has been an outpouring of tributes for the “funny, unique and charismatic” Sibley, a professional dancer and choreographer, from friends, family, politicians and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Beyoncé joined in, posting a simple message on her website which reads: “Rest in power O’Shae Sibley”.
Beyoncé’s tribute to O’Shae Sibley. (Beyoncé’s wesbite)
Voguing is a form of expression originating from queer, Black ballroom culture in the 1980s. Beyoncé’s latest album Renaissance, partly dedicated to her late gay uncle Johnny, pays homage to ballroom culture in its music, style and aesthetic.
Otis Pena, a friend of Sibley’s who was with him at his death, said: “They murdered him because he’s gay, because he stood up for his friends,” in a Facebook live posted hours after the attack.
“His name was O’Shae and you all killed him. You all murdered him right in front of me.”
Sibley’s aunt Tondra told The New York Times: “It was a senseless crime. O’Shae has always been a peacemaker. All he wanted to do was dance.”
New York politicians such as senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal have expressed their shock at the “hate-fueled” incident.
“Sibley was murdered because of who he was,” House representative Ritchie Torres echoed.
“As an openly gay Black man myself, I feel deeply in my heart that ours should be a city and a country where we are free to be who we are without fear of intimidation, harassment, violence, and murder.
“An attack on the LGBTQI+ community is an attack on all of us as free people.”
Sibley’s father Jake Kelly has set up a GoFundMe to help cover the costs of his funeral service following this “untimely and undeserved hate crime incident”.
The GoFundMe has reached $30,000 at the time of writing.