Like any white beta male, I’m a very big fan of Beyoncé. I delight in dancing to Single Ladies with my own life-partner lady, despite some concerns over the cisexist overtones of the song, and when the Queen Bey played the Super Bowl earlier this year I tuned in only for that. They may as well have called it the “Bey Bowl” as far as I was concerned, particularly since I believe football to be a misogynist, jingoist tool of the establishment used to indoctrinate us in the philosophy of Total War and acclimate us to an inevitable lifelong adherence to the military industrial complex. But now comes Miss Beyoncé’s new album, released just a few days ago as a holiday surprise to the world, and it is of course everything fans could have hoped for.
There are those, however, who don’t think so. In a column today in Slate’s “Outward” section called “Hey Mrs. Carter—What About the Gays?,” writer Matt Capetola rightly points out that while the new album from Bey the Great and Powerful is a non-stop treatise on Beyoncé’s special brand of fierce feminism, or “Beyminism,” she fails to give a shout-out directly to her LGBTQ fans by commenting, during the songs and the accompanying videos, on them or the issues facing them.
It dawned on me, though, after I drooled over the album’s 17 videos for about the fourth time, that it featured not a single unambiguous nod to LGBTQ rights. The “Haunted” video seems to present “queers”—that is, people different from a “normal” nuclear family of mannequins by virtue of their race, class, gender, age, etc. But even as Beyoncé glances at this queer world, it’s unclear whether it’s being substantively engaged and celebrated or just voyeuristically depicted as a freakshow. Considering the gravity of the issues this album does unambiguously address, I cannot help but feel slapped in the face by the paucity—no, the patent absence—of explicitly homosexual characters. With every cut-to in which attractive heterosexual couples make out, I increasingly wonder why Beyoncé’s most die-hard constituency has been left out. Not one gay kiss. Not one. That appears to me to be no accident, but rather an act of willed exclusion…
So you say, “No, but she is in favor of gay marriage!” Now ask yourself, as you cling desperately to the scraps your queen has so generously condescended to hurl at you, whether it is enough for her to scrawl “if you like it then you should be able to put a ring on it” on a napkin for her to be considered a true gay icon. Again, arm’s distance. Queen Bey is holding her gay fans perpetually in thrall, but never acceding to the charges of gay icon status…
One of the reasons gay men idolize female popstars regardless of their political views or the explicitness of their homophilia is that the stereotypical gay fantasy world merges so seamlessly with the narcissistic queen imagery in which one is the wildly glamorous center of the universe. Also, as a friend of mine very astutely observed, the sexualization of Beyoncé’s body hinges on a celebration of her butt, rather than say, her breasts. As she says in “Yoncé” “ya man aint’ never seen a booty like this.” Beyoncé and gay men’s sexual imaginations are so close they’re practically grinding—what’s not to like?
Strong words and, may I say since I’m always inclined as a white liberal to be deferential in the presence of minorities and their experiences, not the least bit promoting of a hyper-generalized gay men stereotype.
Still, while I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Capetola that the traditionally infallible Pope Beyoncé made a rare mistake by not dedicating an entire song on the album to specifically singing the praises of the LGBTQ community and its cultural and political considerations, his overall column is, I’m sorry to say, deeply problematic. That’s because while Mr. Capetola correctly laments that his personal cause as a gay man and proud possessor of a “booty like this” is being overlooked, he himself, in fact, has overlooked many more minority and liberal causes, concerns, and groups that Beyoncé the All-Knowlesing could have and should have directly addressed on her album.
First of all, Mr. Capetola very unfairly left off the other important letters in the politically correct sexual and gender identity acronym. The accepted new term is “LGBTQIA.” He failed to mention both the “I” for “intersex” and “A” for “ally.” I like to believe that this oversight was innocent and not a case of Mr. Capetola engaging in an insidious form of homonormative intersex-ally erasure. But even that may not go far enough. There is a movement in its nascent stages which I happen to subscribe to that seeks to add new letters into the mix denoting those who consider themselves polyamorists, are specifically gender-neutral, and fall somewhere along the deviant spectrum. Why isn’t Mr. Capetola taking the needs of these people to receive a hallowed blessing from Beyoncé of Nazareth into consideration?
Beyond that, why does he fail to mention our pressing surveillance state issue in his column? Edward Snowden should have merited at least one direct mention by Oh Cé Can You See on her new album, if not an entire song dedicated exclusively to thanking him for his sacrifice and self-abnegation in the name of all of us. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that Khaleecé Carter might have considered naming the entire record Édward in his honor.
But there’s more. Why doesn’t Mr. Capetola mourn for the lack of a grandstand by the Reverend Dr. Bey Bey King on behalf of Syrian refugees? Victims of the typhoon in the Philippines? NBC workers fighting union-busting tactics by the network? Those pushing to end the use of “the R-word?” Actors and Others for Animals? Falun Gong, which claims to have uncovered illegal organ harvesting by the Chinese government? Little People of America? Wouldn’t any of these groups or causes benefit from a global superstar giving them a reaffirming shout-out? There’s no way they’re not fans of Bey Not Afraid, I Come Before Y’all Always, given that she is in fact the most famous and exalted carbon-based life-form in the known universe.
They love her as you do, Mr. Capetola, so why aren’t they being shown a little Beymotion from Her Vagesty, and why are you so thoughtlessly excluding them from your lament/demand?
We could go on and on, because, you see, when you look at a specific event or act and then start down the road of naming things that aren’t there rather than what is, your choices are practically limitless. And I feel as if Mr. Capetola has done all of his readers a disservice by failing to mention each’s particular grievance or concern in his article. Doing so is always what’s required at times like these. Because as you know, everyone is entitled at all times to have his or her pet cause deferred to. And of course fans, simply by virtue of supporting celebrities, deserve to have their every whim catered to by the people they worship.