Originally published on billboard.com
Laverne Cox shocked the world when she announced that she and Beyoncé are working on a secret project in August. In the tweet from Cox’s official account, she incorporates the hashtag #TransIsBeautiful. It was later unveiled that Cox is the face of the singer's clothing line Ivy Park – meaning that Beyoncé's Pride flag is steadily waving.
This is not the only time the Queen Bey has showed LGBTQ inclusively in her artistry. After all, the singer recognizes that her fan base is primarily comprised of women and gay men – who enjoy channeling her fierce stage persona. In addition to the Laverne Cox collab, here are five more ways Beyoncé’s incorporated LGBTQ matters in her artistry.
1. "Formation" Incorporates Big Freedia, Messy Mya, & Gay Slang
At the beginning of her visually appealing “Formation” music video, viewers hear the voice of bounce artist Big Freedia as well as the voice of late YouTube star Messy Mya. Although she’s currently embroiled in a copyright infringement lawsuit with the estate of Messy Mya, the impact of these two LGBTQ artists set the tone for the video’s New Orleans (and Hurricane Katrina) centric imagery. When discussing her phone call with Beyoncé, Big Freedia explained that the singer wanted an authentic voice to represent NOLA – quite suiting for the twerk-bounce also heard in “Formation.”
In a 2011 interview with PrideSource, Beyoncé revealed that she’s often influenced by her gay hairstylists and make-up artists, incorporating their slang into her music. Five years later on “Formation,” we hear the terminology of “slay,” a popular gay term which in itself is a derivative of black female culture.
2. “Run The World” Was Also Meant For Gay Men
In the same PrideSource interview, Beyoncé revealed that another one of her famous bounce tracks, “Run The World (Girls)” was meant for gay men as well. Although her response to the idea of women and gay men uniting to run the world together (“Well, that's what I meant when I said girl. [Laughs.]”) could be perceived as a polarizing comment in the politics of homosexuality and gender, it all seemed well intentioned.
3. “Single Ladies” and “Diva” Incorporates J-Setting
Beyoncé’s instrumental choreographer Frank Gatson introduced the diva to a style of dancing known as J-Setting. J-Setting originates from the female dance team of Jackson State University, an HBCU located in Mississippi. Eventually gay culture of the south adopted the style of dancing created by the “Prancing J-Settes” of Jackson State – this was showcased in the short-lived Oxygen reality series The Prancing Elites Project in 2015. Wearing unitards reminiscent of the scene, Beyoncé executed the J-Setting dance moves of strutting and tip-toeing in an uniform fashion during her Sasha Fierce period, as seen in the Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper “Single Ladies” as well as “Diva.”
4. Duets With Frank Ocean
When Frank Ocean revealed to the public his bisexuality in 2012, Beyoncé was one of the many artists showing her support. Using a black and white image of Ocean, the singer shared a handwritten note on her website with the following message: “Be fearless. Be honest. Be generous. Be brave. Be poetic. Be open. Be free. Be yourself. Be in love. Be happy. Be inspiration.” It only seemed natural that the R&B stars would collab together on “Superpower,” a cut from Beyoncé’s 2013 self-titled surprise. Listeners would receive a repeat: This time around on “Pink + White” from Ocean’s 2016 opus Blonde – an LP exploring the singer’s bisexuality and themes of masculinity and femininity.
5. Stage Presence Serves As An Inspiration For Drag Culture
Tyra Sanchez and Kenya Michaels are the two drag contestants that have impersonated Beyoncé on the iconic Snatch Game challenge of RuPaul’s Drag Race (see how their Bey’s ranked in Billboard’s official ranking of Snatch Game contestants here). And it’s easy to see why: With elaborate costumes, hair-whip-appeal choreography, and empowering anthems, Sasha Fierce brings out the drag in just about anyone. In her PrideSource interview, Beyoncé even acknowledges this by saying, “I have many different looks, so find what works best for your silhouette and your face.”