O'Shea Sibley was killed after expressing queer joy by voguing, activists say
The suspect allegedly said homophobic and anti-Black statements.
Throughout the city, protesters have danced and vogued, sometimes through tears, in an homage to the professional dancer who was allegedly fatally stabbed by a teen on July 29 while voguing at a Brooklyn gas station.
"It wasn't a party. It was revolution, in the way that we do it – voguing," local trans activist Qween Jean told ABC News of the demonstrations.
Sibley’s friends said he and other friends were voguing to Beyoncé's "Renaissance" album, which has been dubbed as a tribute to the Black, queer roots of disco music. The pop star honored him on her website, in a tribute that reads: "Rest in Power O'Shae Sibley."
The suspect and several others accompanying him said homophobic slurs and anti-Black statements at Sibley's group while demanding that they stop dancing, according to NYPD Assistant Chief Joseph Kenny. The confrontation then allegedly turned violent.
The perpetrator allegedly struck Sibley with a sharp object on the left side of his ribcage, "piercing his chest and damaging his heart," according to the complaint.
The teen was arraigned in Brooklyn criminal court on second-degree murder, second-degree murder as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. He is being held without bail.
ABC News did not immediately receive comment from the teen's attorney, Mark Henry Pollard.
Sibley's untimely death is symbolic of the hate still faced by the LGBTQ community, particularly against queer Black people, according to Qween Jean.
To vogue is to be free, Qween Jean said. She believes the dance connects dancers "to our past, the present moment and to the future."
"It's through the art, the rhythms that our bodies create, that people find freedom," she said. "O'Shea Sibley was truly in that free space ... They turned something so liberating right into something that was so cantankerous."
Qween Jean said that voguing and dancing is an act of resistance in the wake of the tragedy.
"We will not be forced away from our own community, we will not be policed," Qween Jean said. "Voguing has been a lifeline and has been a source of relief and resistance … They can never take our power, our communal power."
Ballroom culture and voguing is widely regarded by historians as being created and perfected by queer people of color in New York City.
Voguing is the "repetition of fashion poses," which has evolved to include acrobatics, according to performer Kevin Aviance – who calls himself a "nightlife legend" as a singer and dancer. Vouguing is one element of ballroom, which refers to the underground LGBTQ pageant competitions. Sibley was associated with a ballroom family called the House of Old Navy, according to his Instagram page.
Aviance told ABC News that voguing is like "a fever inside your body." His 1999 song "C—y" is sampled in Beyoncé's "PURE/HONEY" on the "Renaissance" album.
Aviance joined other mourners at the ball hosted by Qween Jean in honor of Sibley.
Aviance, who danced among other mourners, told ABC News the tragic death of Sibley struck a nerve with him in part because he too has been a victim of anti-LGBTQ violence.
He described being beaten in the early 2000s, and said he's lucky to be alive.
"My own experience – it brings me right back to that," he said. "Anytime any one of us gets hurt or anything like that ... it disgusts me."
In between bursts of duckwalks, spins and dips, Qween Jean and Aviance offered somber moments of reflection to remind vigil-goers of the call to action toward justice against hate.
"They have to stop doing this," Aviance told the crowd. "They have to stop not seeing us and trying to stop. We're the most beautiful things in the world."
"Voguing is not a crime," another speaker said.
"It's up to all of us right to rise up when there are moments of crisis, when there are moments of injustice," Qween Jean told ABC News.
Qween Jean led the ball and marches, taking over the gas station where the incident occurred. When they arrived, she said it was as if nothing had happened: "That seems to be a common theme in America, business as usual. They were not interrupted by his death. But we will be forever. And that was a very stark reality."
She continued, "We were an inconvenience for the folks in that neighborhood ... you will be inconvenienced, we will disrupt until we connect that Black lives must matter all over this country."
ABC News' Eric Jones, Anthony Mcmahon and Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.