Beyonce Being Canceled Because Of Controversial Performance?

Beyonce's recent performance in Dubai is stirring debate among the LGBTQ community because of the nation's laws.

By Sean Thiessen | Updated


Backlash over Beyonce’s performance in Dubai has reached a fever pitch. The singer performed a private show at the opening of the United Arabian Emirates’ newest luxury hotel, Atlantis The Royal, on January 21, 2023, for a small fee – about $24 million. The UAE is known for harsh laws against LGBTQ persons, and fans armed with articles like the one from Newsweek writer Shannon Power have flocked to social media to debate the ethical implications of Beyonce’s choice to perform in the country.

Beyonce released her latest album, Renaissance, in the summer of 2022. The album was heralded as a tribute to Black LGBTQ culture, and Beyonce has long been regarded as a high-profile ally of the LGBTQ community. Her latest turn in Dubai has many questioning her allegiance, with many viewing the artist as having sold out her beliefs.

Some analysts have taken their indictments even further. An article from The Guardian extrapolated the implications of Beyonce’s performance, calling the show not just “an affront to LGBTQ+ fans, but workers’ rights in the UAE.”

As the walls of cancel culture close in on the celebrity, many have jumped in to identify the nuances of the situation. Several have called the response to Beyonce’s Dubai performance hypocritical, even personal. This tweet notes a growing list of celebrities to perform in Dubai, such as LGBTQ icons Elton John and Lady Gaga, who did so unscathed by the public and the UAE government.

Others have pointed out the double standard fans apply to Beyonce. TV personality Ts Madison called out the “selective outrage” fans engage in seemingly at random, highlighting the fact that many fans in the U.S. continue to line up for Beyonce’s shows in states with anti-LGBTQ legislation in place.

That sentiment has been echoed around the internet, along with the identification of misplaced activism. One user on Twitter noted the large percentage of white people crusading against Beyonce, who will be lined up for her shows in U.S. states that do not embrace LGBTQ residents, emphasizing the importance of that fact.

Criticism coming from the West was indicated in far greater and graver detail in Shannon Power’s Newsweek article, which pointed to the danger and damage that certain comments from people in the U.S. can have on the LGBTQ population in the UAE. Interviews with LGBTQ residents from the UAE revealed that the community there did not see any reason for controversy, again citing the large number of LGBTQ performers to come through the UAE in the past.

Others expressed frustration with how the West views the conditions LGBTQ people face in the UAE. One interviewee saw the Beyonce controversy coming out of the West as a reinforcement of a stereotype about “super harsh” UAE culture. Power noted that, per the UAE penal code, same-sex male sex is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but this LGBTQ resident said conditions are not as scary as many from the outside make them out to be.

An interviewee identified as Malika thanked the West for their support but asked that people not speak on the UAE LGBTQ community’s behalf. “We are treading carefully by claiming our right to exist without risking the safety of us and our community. Please don’t speak or act on our behalf.” Power posted this tweet sharing the article and urging people not to speak out without being educated on the subject.

Beyonce has endured plenty of controversies, some of which caused the singer to retroactively change lyrics to songs on her last album. She remains one of the most popular artists in the world and has navigated touchy situations before. Time will tell how she responds to the controversy in Dubai, and whether or not her public image will recover in the wake of a perceived betrayal of a community she has so vocally supported.