After enduring many years of speculation about her sexuality — most recently thanks to a music video that celebrates "creation, self-love, sexuality, and pussy power!" featuring her rumored girlfriend Tessa Thompson — Janelle Monáe is coming out on her own terms.
In a revealing new interview with Rolling Stone, Monáe confirmed that she personally identifies with tenets of both pansexuality and bisexuality. "Being a queer black woman in America, someone who has been in relationships with both men and women — I consider myself to be a free-ass motherf*cker," she told the magazine. While she initially believed this line of thinking meant she was bisexual, "later I read about pansexuality and was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.' I'm open to learning more about who I am."
For privacy reasons, she demurred on saying who she's dated in the past or who she's dating currently. But she did share the genesis behind her androgynous, robotic-heavy public persona, which was created as somewhat of a defense mechanism to prevent people from looking too much into her private life. In fact, she believe she needed this persona as a black woman in the industry: "It had to do with the fear of being judged. All I saw was that I was supposed to look a certain way coming into this industry, and I felt like I [didn't] look like a stereotypical black female artist."
By publicly identifying herself as a queer black woman, Monáe knows she's in a unique position to speak to minority communities who don't easily have access to role models like herself. And with her new album, Dirty Computer, she hopes that spirit will shine through. “I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you," she explained. "This album is for you. Be proud."
Janelle Monáe Stars in "Noir Town," Directed by Jordan Peele