When Beyoncé released the single “Break My Soul” it was blatantly clear that this was a queer anthem. With its house beat sampled from the iconic Robin S. queer anthem, “Show Me Love”, Big Freedia’s bellowing call outs to “release your trade” and the lyrics “the queens in the front and the doms in the back”, “Break My Soul” was just a taste of what queen Bey was cooking up with her latest album RENAISSANCE.
The album leaked two days early and naturally, the hive was all over it. Based on the statement on her website, Beyonce is set on making this an album of freedom and escape.
“Creating this album allowed me to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world,” the statement read. “It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving. My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom.”
The statement very much aligns with queer culture and it becomes more evident that queer culture fueled the album when she mentions her Uncle Jonny.
“A big thank you to my Uncle Jonny,” writes Beyoncé. “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. Thank you to all of the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contribution have gone unrecognized for far too long. This is a celebration for you.”
With this mention of Uncle Jonny, hearing “Break My Soul”, the other songs on this album, and seeing all the visuals that have been unveiled, this album (which is one of three acts) feels like it could an entirely queer inspired masterpiece.
Uncle Jonny was mentioned during the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards in 2019 when Beyoncé and her husband Jay Z accepted the Vanguard Award.
“I want to dedicate this award to my Uncle Jonny, the most fabulous gay man I’ve ever known, who helped raise me and my sister,” said Beyoncé in her speech.” He lived his truth. He was brave and unapologetic during a time when this country wasn’t as accepting and witnessing his battle with HIV was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever lived. I’m hopeful that his struggles serve to open pathways for other young people to live more freely. LGBTQ I rights are human rights.”
Legendary rapper Jay Z has also been open about his mother Gloria Carter, who came out as gay. In fact, he and his mother have a duet on the track “Smile” on his 2017 album 4:44 where he raps about it.
“I just want to say to you, Jay, that I’m so proud of you for making incredible strides towards changing stigmas in the hip hop community,” Beyoncé told Jay Z during the acceptance speech. It’s a privilege to watch you take those steps and to stand right next to you.”
On the release of RENAISSANCE, GLAAD reached out to Ian Haddock, Executive Director of The Normal Anomaly Initiative in Houston, a nonprofit organization and grantee of the Gilead COMPASS Initiative®
The group’s mission is to center Black, queer people to overcome barriers, end stigma and problematic narratives to actualize a new normal.
The Normal Anomaly team, based in Houston
“From including TS Madison to Big Freedia, not only is this album so Southern, it is so Black and even more queer! Beyoncé has always stood for marginalized folx and the fact that she is doing it through her music where millions will hear it, is astounding. As the leader of a Black, queer organization in her hometown, I have never been more empowered, excited and engaged to continue to eliminate barriers here for Black, queer people locally after listening to Renaissance,” Haddock said.
Part 1 of RENAISSANCE was released on Friday, July 29, and is available to listen wherever you stream music.