Beyoncé’s album Renaissance honours queer and trans ballroom trailblazers: ‘A true love letter’

Beyoncé’s new album Renaissance is here and packed with references to the queer and trans ballroom culture.

In the album booklet for Renaissance, Beyoncé’s seventh solo album, the singer emulates the iconic fashion of the ballroom. 

As pointed out by fans, Beyoncé’s glitzy gold outfit is a clear reference to the legendary Pepper LeBejia, while her demure leather black corset look has drawn parallels to Octavia St. Laurent, both stars of the film Paris Is Burning.

Their influence is also apparent in Beyoncé’s album dedication, which reads: “Thank you to all of the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognised for far too long.”

Oh, Beyoncé is going there with #renaissance

Love to our iconic queer and trans ancestors, Pepper LaBeija and Octavia St. Laurent, and their enduring legacies!

— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) July 28, 2022

Queer fans have praised Beyoncé’s attention to the rich history and structure of Ballroom culture evident in songs such as “Heated”, “Pure/Honey”, “Summer Renaissance” and “THIQUE”.

This is how you do a ballroom-inspired song!!! See what happens when you actually involve the people that know what they’re doing? The placement of the crashes, the synergy between the samples and Beyoncé’s singing, the understanding of the structure of ballroom music,” one person wrote. 

Beyoncé collaborated with and sampled Black artists across genres and time for Renaissance, such as the black transgender DJ and producer Honey Dijon and ‘90s drag artist Moi Renee.

The whole album can be read as a love letter to the Black LGBTQ+ community, with Beyoncé dedicating the album to her late uncle Johnny, “the most fabulous gay man” she knew, who served as inspiration for the project. 

“Renaissance is Beyoncé at her most debauched – it’s an incredibly fun and lively handbaggy. Post-disco record and a true love letter to the ballroom scene and queer culture and it’s icons (Donna Summer, Grace Jones, Madonna),” one fan tweeted.

Another added: “The tribute to Black transgender women & ballroom culture. This album is QUEER. :’) ily.”

You can’t fully understand Beyoncé’s #RENAISSANCE album if you know NOTHING about the 80s and 90s ballroom and house culture and you sure as hell won’t understand how well it’s put together.
Diversify your range in music and get cultured then we can talk about it honey.

— Beyoncé Is Back Bishes (@ItsMe_Beepz) July 29, 2022

HEATED is giving me BALLROOM!!! Beyoncé loves the gays!

— A Part Of Me- OUT NOW (@IAMJAYMONAE_) July 28, 2022

HEATED. Beyoncé showing love to her late uncle Johnny and Ballroom culture. The VOGUE TALK?? GAGGED #RENAISSANCE

— Work of Art OUT NOW (@Drebae_) July 29, 2022

Beyoncé dedicating this album to Uncle Johnny and acknowledging that black gay ballroom culture inspired it got me way up in my feelings rn.

— (@TheDaquanSmith) July 28, 2022

#Renaissance IS GIVING: 80-90’s Underground ballroom VOGUE, Ibiza, studio 51, club hangers, ass-shaking, electric slide, head bobbing, cocktails on the beach on vacay. It’s giving…. alternative-yonce, experimental-yonce. IN-her-creative-Bag-YONCE excellence. #beyonce

— Jason (@jasonpanini) July 28, 2022

Pure/Honey went from a Ballroom cut to a Prince song to a MJ song and now we’re back in the ballroom.


— Sisa (@TheTitanBaddie) July 28, 2022

From paying homage to queer icons to reminding mfs she’s still that bitch ugh #RENAISSANCE #Beyonce

— CHURCH GIRL (@reine1i) July 29, 2022

#Beyonce new album a love letter to the black queer community

— Passiva da bicla (@ruben_abegao) July 29, 2022

This is giving Pepper Labeja

— Themi Lovato (@KoticCouture) July 28, 2022

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