As Beyoncé made her long-awaited return to the stage for a private concert in Dubai, marking the opening of the luxury hotel Atlantis The Royal, the event sparked a heated debate among fans and critics alike. Despite a strict no-phones policy at the exclusive gig, footage of the show flooded the internet and fans were thrilled to see the return of Queen B. However, some were not as excited due to the United Arab Emirates’ strict laws against same-sex relationships.
Renaissance, Beyoncé’s latest album, has been celebrated for “honoring black queer culture” and taking inspiration from LGBT icons. It pays tribute to dance music that emerged out of the gay community and also references drag ballrooms in Harlem, New York. Freelance music journalist Abigail Firth tells BBC Newsbeat Beyoncé’s recent work is “indebted to LGBT culture”.
The question of why Beyoncé would choose to perform in a country that is known for its discriminatory laws against the LGBT community is one that many are asking. Some fans have criticized the singer for accepting $24 million to perform in Dubai, while others have pointed out that the UAE and surrounding countries aren’t alone in their stance on LGBT rights and shouldn’t be singled out.
Lawrence Barton, who runs a chain of gay bars in Birmingham, says it was “truly disappointing” to see Beyoncé performing in Dubai. “We need to hear from Beyoncé herself about how she feels about the situation that our community faces over there,” he says. “Because she has fans all over the world that adore her, some will be upset and some will think it’s an amazing thing.”