There’s a whole lotta think pieces happening right now regarding Beyoncé’s newest album, Renaissance, and I’m not going to continue the chaos. Instead, I just pressed play and let the art speak for itself.
It was a given that Beyoncé was going to put the internet in a chokehold with her new album, merchandise and visuals and as a music fan, I chose to listen with an open heart and ears.
I’m so glad I did.
Because I’m not interested in what white people have to say about Beyoncé or her music and I damn sure don’t care what they think about house music.
I’m from the south side of Chicago so house music is in my bones—y’a heard? It doesn’t take much to get me to percolate and if you give me a few drinks I’ll doo-doo brown all-up-and-down the dance floor.
Ms. Tina Lawson, Beyoncé’s mother, posted a lovely Instagram post recently about her late nephew, Johnny. She considered her nephew like an older brother because they were two years apart but Beyoncé and her sister Solange referred to him as their uncle. Unfortunately, Johnny passed away from HIV complications according to BBC.
Like Beyoncé, I also lost someone I deeply cared for and loved to HIV complications. Like Uncle Johnny, he didn’t deserve to die and my friend was only 33-years-old. He had so much to live for and he was the brightest star in any room he entered. My dear friend gave me a first-hand look at what it’s like being an androgynous-presenting, gay male in New York City.
Between the ballroom scenes, the gay bars and hangouts and the public scrutiny, my friend continued to keep his head high, his makeup beat and his feet moving to the beat. As I vibe out to Renaissance, I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, he would really love this!”
One of our last summer outings together was in Brooklyn, NY at the Restoration Plaza. They had a a mini house music party and I just remember us drinking and dancing with beautiful men all evening.
I’m saying all this to say that house music and Black LGBTQ+ culture go hand-and-hand. In fact, Black culture as a whole is driven by Black queer culture. From fashion, to slang, to music and trends, Black queers are oftentimes copied and their contributions are trickled up to to their cishetero and affluent counterparts.
Unfortunately, our society is structured in a way where the most privileged amongst us must move the culture forward by making space for the most marginalized amongst us. With this album, it feel like Beyoncé is trying to do that sonically. And with that being said, I thought I could contribute to the movement by recommending books that highlight Black queer voices in fiction and non-fiction. I picked sixteen books to accompany the sixteen tracks on Renaissance. There’s a lot of Black, queer politics, feminism, history listed and it will make a great addition to your bookshelf.
So check out the list and let me know what you think. If there’s anything you would add, you can always leave a comment and let me know.
I’M THAT GIRL — Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair
COZY — And The Category Is …: Inside New York’s Vogue, House, and Ballroom Community by Ricky Tucker
ALIEN SUPERSTAR — In The Black Fantastic by Ekow Eshun
CUFF IT— Boys Comes First by Aaron Foley
ENERGY — Queen Of Prophecy by Aya de Leon
BREAK MY SOUL — Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva! by Big Freedia
CHURCH GIRL — The Collection Plate by Kendra Allen
PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA —Kings, Queen and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju
VIRGO’S GROOVE — Black Love Matters by Jessica P. Pryde
THIQUE — Bad Fat Black Girl by Sesali Bowen
ALL UP IN YOUR MIND —Greenland by David Santos Donaldson
AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM —The Government Means To Kill Me by Rasheed Newson
SUMMER RENAISSANCE — Do You Remember House?: Chicago’s Queer of Color Undergrounds by Micah E. Salkind
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