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Essay: Bey’s ‘Lemonade’ Celebrates Unapologetic Black Queer Love

Image: Beyonce Lemonade
Beyonce released "Lemonade" on HBO on April 23, 2016. HBO

As a beverage, Lemonade can be tart, sweet, refreshing and in Beyoncé’s case: dripping with realness.

The star known to make the world stop with her surprise albums didn’t disappoint with her utterly raw, gorgeous and painful display of black womanhood. It was the most delicious heartbreak of destined love we’ve ever seen.

LEMONADE is a lyrical and visual dissertation on the soul of a black woman.

Our stories are rarely ever told on this level—where white gaze may in fact be close, but whose eyes and thoughts don’t guide the narrative.

Black women’s birthright is that of resistance. Resisting society’s calls to politicize our existence while simultaneously making us invisible—our pain, desire, sexuality and intellect. With LEMONADE, the fullness of who we are is right out front and on display – on Beyoncé’s (and our) own terms. And it is brilliant.

While many will continue to speculate on what this album reveals about her marriage with Jay Z, I believe that Beyoncé instead is telling us a very honest tale about what real love, unabashed, ugly, hysterical, and messy looks and feels like—for all of us—and to my delight this tale of love and betrayal, this heroine’s journey is an inclusive one.

It wasn’t lost on me and I’m sure the countless other black and queer fans of Queen Bey, that we could see ourselves in her visual album. All too often stories of love, heartbreak, loss and reconciliation are told through a hetero-normative lens—so much so that even though the LGBT community has won marriage equality— how we love and who we love is still up for debate—but in LEMONADE we are seen, as full and complete people.

RELATED: Beyoncé Doesn't Shy Away from Controversy with 'Lemonade'

Not unlike her video for Formation, which showed a young black boy, vogueing in the mirror and giving face, -- a black LGBT dance tradition with deep roots in the underground competition/community scene—LEMONADE shows our black LGBT love story, as much as it does our resistance to societal norms that work to repeal our rights and push us to the margins.

Image: Beyonc? Lemonade
Beyonce released "Lemonade" on HBO on April 23, 2016. HBO

This resistance is captured with sweet and savory images of same-sex couples, some black and some interracial, male and female, all embracing each other lovingly. This scene is like a love-in, compelling the world to see us, feel us, and know us.

On the song "All Night," Beyoncé belts out that “true love never has to hide” and it rings so clear that she is singing for all of us—through this ballad, telling us to come out into the open, into the light.

If out of the 7 billion people on this Earth you have found the one person to love, that loves you back, even if that love is complicated and at times devastating should you have to hide it? Should you be forced to keep that love cloaked in darkness at our fear of what that love—your love means to someone outside of your sacred bond?

LEMONADE is a liberation… hers and ours. It is a celebration and recognition of that deep, binding love—the love of self, our heritage, our blackness, our womaness, and yes, our queerness.

The caged bird on this album sings, squeals, gasps, spits fire and sips mouthwatering LEMONADE.

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