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Beyoncé's Renaissance Honors Ballroom's Queer & Trans Pioneers

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Beyoncé is giving Black LGBTQ+ icons their flowers while they can enjoy them!

On her new album RENAISSANCE, Beyoncé is bringing several legends of the ballroom and drag scenes into mainstream pop music — and she’s paying appropriate tribute in doing so.

RENAISSANCE has a lot of dance-inspired tracks, and fittingly, many of them sample legendary Black queer artists, including Big Freedia, TS Madison, Honey Djon, Syd, Moi Renee, MikeQ, Kevin Aviance, and Kevin JZ Prodigy.

We previously had heard her track featuring the Queen of Bounce Big Freedia, “Break My Soul.” On the song “Cozy,” she samples a YouTube video from TS Madison “B*tch I’m Black.” 

The song  “Pure/Honey” is one of the gayest on the album, featuring samples from ’90s drag and house music legend Moi Renee, as well as other Black queer artists. The second sample comes from the 1996 song “C*nty” by legendary drag performer, club musician, and nightclub personality from the House of Aviance, Kevin Aviance. A third song sampled on the song is “Feels Like” by ballroom super producer and DJ MikeQ, known for producing the music for the documentary Kiki and being the resident DJ on HBO Max’s Legendary, and one of the most well-known Ballroom commentators, Kevin JZ Prodigy.

As Raquel Willis pointed out, Beyoncé doesn’t just pay tribute to Black LGBTQ+ pioneers in the music on the album, but its visuals are inspired by them as well. She showed a picture from the album of Beyoncé walking a ballroom runway in opulent gold with dark sunglasses, a picture that immediately evokes the legendary Pepper LaBeija.

There’s also a picture of Queen Bey posing on a set of red stairs in front of a black background that evokes the legendary beauty queen Octavia St. Laurent. The Queen really is honoring the royalty that came before her!

Beyoncé also dedicated the album to her late uncle and godmother Jonny.

“He was my godmother and the first person to expose me to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album,” she said. “Thank you to all of the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long. This is a celebration for you.”

RENAISSANCE is available to stream on music platforms now!

RELATED | Learn It: 6 Movies and TV Shows About Ballroom and Voguing

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