Following on from a tragic murder in New York, the landing page to Beyonce’s official website now reads: REST IN POWER O’SHAE SIBLEY.
Sibley, a 28-year-old Black gay man and professional dancer, was murdered on Saturday night (July 29) at a gas station in Brooklyn. Prior to the attack, Sibley and his friends were voguing to Beyonce’s Renaissance album when a group of men approached them, demanded that they stop dancing, and began to shout homophobic slurs. After Sibley challenged them, reportedly saying “there is nothing wrong with being gay”, he was stabbed. His friends attempted to stop the bleeding and rushed him to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Speaking in a Facebook video, Sibley’s friend Otis Pena – who was present at the attack – said, “They murdered him because he’s gay, because he stood up for his friends. His name was O’Shae and you all killed him. You all murdered him right in front of me.” Sibley’s death is now being investigated as a hate crime, and a 17-year-old man has been ID’d as a suspect, but so far no arrests have been made.
Sibley had moved from New York to Philadelphia just before the pandemic, in order to pursue his career as a dancer and choreographer. Speaking to The New York Times, his aunt, Tondra Sibley, recalled him as a young boy “gyrating and jerking” to Missy Elliot. Later, he enrolled at the Philadelphia Dance Company, and began taking lessons in ballet. His friends and colleagues have paid tribute to a man who was talented, dedicated to his craft, fun-loving and courageous.
His death has hit New York’s LGBTQ+ community particularly hard at a time when harassment and violence against queer people in the US is increasing at an alarming rate. It’s not incidental that, prior to his death, Silbey was voguing – a style of dance heavily associated with Black queer and trans culture which has, for decades, been a symbol of pride and resistance.