The suspect in the fatal stabbing of O’Shae Sibley reportedly turned himself in, according to the New York Police Department. The suspect, who is 17 years old, was charged with murder in the second degree with a hate crime enhancement and criminal possession of a weapon.
An impromptu voguing session in a gas station parking lot turned deadly when a prominent Black queer dancer was killed by a suspected teen yelling homophobic epithets, according to police.
On Saturday night, O’Shae Sibley, 28, and friends stopped at Mobil Gas station in Brooklyn to refill on gas after a day trip to the Jersey Shore. While stopped, Sibley and his friends began jamming and voguing to Beyonce’s album “Renaissance,” according to media reports.
Security footage shows a group of men exiting the Bolla Market calling out to the group of dancers, reportedly shouting homophobic slurs and insults. Sibley approaches the men in defense, where the argument escalates when a man in black shorts pulls out a knife and stabs Sibley.
Otis Pena, a witness and close friend of Sibley, held the stab wound near his heart until paramedics arrived. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Maimonides Medical Center.
Update: On Saturday, Aug. 5, the suspect in the fatal stabbing turned himself in, according to the New York Police Department. The 17-year-old suspect was charged with murder in the second degree with a hate crime enhancement and criminal possession of a weapon.
Voguing, especially in New York City, is deeply tied to the BIPOC queer community. The New York ballroom scene, starting in the 1960s, was the birthplace of ball and vogue competitions. It was a safe space for the socially ostracized Black and Hispanic queer community.
“Vogue has always been a celebration in resistance because of the lifestyles that we chose,” said Devon Webster, a ballroom artist known as Pony Zion, in an article with Insider. “Ballroom is the resistance, but voguing is a celebration. Voguing as resist? No, it’s irresistible. It’s about feeling good about who and what I am, and not because of something else.”
For Sibley, this innately queer act, voguing, a mere act of celebration, made him a target for violence.
“They murdered him because he was gay because he stood up for his friends,” said Pena in a Facebook Live. “Just pumping gas, listening to Renaissance, just having a good time.”
Violent, senseless acts against BIPOC LGBTQ individuals continue to be a prevalent global issue. Last month, an openly queer singer Josiah’ Jonty’ Robinson of Beaulieu, was strangled to death on Grenada Beach in the Caribbean. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and national LGBTQ organization GLAAD have reported more than 350 incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault against LGBTQIA+ individuals from June 2022 to April 2023.
In response to the attack, Beyonce wrote, “Rest in Power. O’Shae Sibley” on the front page of her website.
Her album “Renaissance” is widely accepted amongst the Black queer community. The album – dedicated to her late Uncle Johnny – a gay man and LGBTQ+ advocate who died of AIDS-related complications – is an amalgamation of ballroom vogue references and features artists like Big Freedia, Honey Dijon, Syd, Moi Renee and so much more.
Sibley was deeply immersed in the ballroom and queer dance scene. As a professional dancer, he performed at the Lincoln Center in a digital media exhibit, “An Electric Dance to the Moment in Time”. Director Kemar Jewel, a close-found family member of Sibley, told NY Daily News about Sibley’s notable choreography work in his dance video, “Soft: A Love Letter to Queer Black Men.”
“He could sing, he could do hip hop, jazz, ballet, tap, and he was an incredible voguer! That’s how we became close,” wrote Jewel in a Facebook post.
Sibley’s death has sent ripples across the queer dance community.
“This news is absolutely heartbreaking, and we believe no one deserves to be targeted for simply being themselves and living in their truth,” said Philadanco!, Sibley’s old dance company, in a Facebook post. “We are keeping high hopes that Justice will be served.”
“I’ll make sure that every Black Queer artist I meet knows that I am who I am because you poured into me and believed in me, even when no one else did,” said Jewel.
This story was updated 8/7/23 with new information.