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Beyoncé faces criticism after making live performance return in Dubai

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Beyoncé has been facing criticism, particularly from LGBTQ+ fans, after making her return to the live stage for the first time in four years at the opening of a luxury resort in United Arab Emirates (UAE) city, Dubai.

The hyper-exclusive show, which invited journalists and influencers for a “once-in-a-lifetime performance” on Saturday (January 21), marked the opening of the new Atlantis The Royal resort and hotel, Pitchfork first reported.

It was the singer-songwriter’s first performance since releasing her 2022 album ‘Renaissance’, which draws heavily on Black, queer ballroom culture in the USA and the early pioneers of disco, funk and house music.

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Beyoncé reportedly didn’t perform any songs from ‘Renaissance’, but fans and campaigners have questioned whether that should change perceptions surrounding the gig, and whether it was because she wasn’t allowed to due to the concert’s location.

Reports also suggest that she was paid $24 million (£20 million) for the hour-long gig (via TMZ), with some even suggesting she was paid as much as $35 million (£28 million, via MailOnline).

Dubai has some of the strictest laws in the world surrounding LGBTQ+ rights and visibility. Homosexuality is illegal and can be punishable by death, although it is not always enforced. Researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE) found that Western men were able to form underground queer networks in the country.

Read this next: How Black women and queer communities are shaping the future of African electronic music

Douglas Greenwood, contributing editor at i-D tweeted: “No beef but I’m struggling to understand why Beyoncé, who has half a billion dollars, would accept 20 million dollars to make her debut performance of the Renaissance album, a record which lifts heavily from queer culture, in Dubai, a country where LGBT rights aren’t recognised.”

After replies raised the point that she hadn’t played any songs from the 2022 album, Greenwood wrote: “does that actually make a difference? She’s in cycle for an album for an album indebted to queer culture. The question should be: why didn’t she [perform tracks from ‘Renaissance’]? Could she?”

LGBTQ+ campaigner Peter Tatchell tweeted: “#Beyonce performs in #Dubai’s homophobic dictatorship. Ditching her own progressive values, she put a money-grabbing pay cheque before human rights. And sang no songs from ‘Renaissance’ album, to appease anti-LGBT+ regime that has death penalty for gay sex?”

Mixmag has reached out to Beyonce’s representatives for comment, with none provided at the time of publishing.

Isaac Muk is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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