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

Beyoncé in a gold ballroom inspired outfit.

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.”

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.”