Friends, family, and LGBTQ+ communities across the world are honouring the life of O’Shae Sibley, a professional dancer from Brooklyn, New York, who was fatally stabbed after he and his friends were voguing to music from Beyoncé’s Renaissance album in a gas station car park on Saturday, July 19.
Eyewitnesses say that Sibley and his friends were taunted by a group of teenagers who used racist and homophobic slurs and told them to stop dancing. Sibley reportedly stood up to the group, before his life ended abruptly and tragically.
O’Shae’s funeral was held on Tuesday, August 8, at a historic opera house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he grew up. Vigils have also been held across the US, including one outside the iconic Stonewall Inn in New York on Thursday, August 3.
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The 28-year-old professional dancer is being remembered by friends, family, and fellow dancers as an incredible performer and advocate for social justice. Friends said that O’Shae’s passion for dance was unmatched. He was always dancing, and his presence could transform any space into a vibrant dance floor.
Prior to moving to New York, he performed with the Philadanco dance company, known for celebrating African-American dance. Karen Pendergrass, a Philadelphia School of Dance Arts teacher, said she remembers O’Shae Sibley as a shy and talented 14-year-old, and confirmed a scholarship is being created in the name of the dancer.
A ballroom friend of Sibley’s, Kristian Miranda, said: “I vogue on the street every day, ballroom is chosen family… that’s what really brought us together…Voguing is an expression. It’s a feeling inside.”
Voguing may have originated in the 1970s when ballroom legend Paris Dupree of Paris is Burning pulled a copy of Vogue magazine from her bag and began imitating the model’s poses as she danced along to the music. Another theory suggests that it was developed by Black queer prisoners on Rikers Island in the 1960s.
Either way, by the early 1980s, voguing competitions were a staple in New York balls, and the musical style of Beyoncé’s Renaissance record pays homage to the Black queer ballroom culture from which voguing originates.
Voguing as an act of defiance. Dancer O’Shae Sibley was murdered last week at a gas station in Brooklyn for dancing while celebrating after a Beyoncé concert. We dance to remember and memorialize him and to begin to heal the hurt in our hearts. #justiceforoshae #OshaeSibley pic.twitter.com/wcD7xkwDa7
— Dance Parade NYC (@DanceParadeNYC) August 7, 2023
A 17-year-old suspect reportedly turned himself into the police station earlier on Friday and has been charged with a hate crime and remains in police custody.
The suspect in the fatal stabbing of O’Shae Sibley in my district last Saturday night just turned himself in to the @NYPD61Pct & is now in their custody. Wishing the family peace during this difficult time & hoping for swift justice & serious consequences for the perpetrator. https://t.co/q2R4SzueAP
— Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (@InnaVernikov) August 4, 2023
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