Janelle Monae has addressed her sexuality head-on for the first time.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Janelle says she identifies as a queer pansexual.
Check out a few excerpts from the magazine.
“Being a queer black woman in America,” she says, taking a breath as she comes out, “someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.” She initially identified as bisexual, she clarifies, “but then 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.”
Early in her career, Monáe was insecure about living up to impossible showbiz ideals; the persona, the androgynous outfits, the inflexible commitment to the storyline both on- and offstage, served in part as protective armor. “It had to do with the fear of being judged,” she says. “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.”
She is also a perfectionist, a tendency that’s helped her career and hindered her emotional life; portraying a flawless automaton was also a bit of wish fulfillment. It’s one of the many reasons she thought she had a “computer virus” that needed cleaning, which led her to years of therapy, starting before the 2010 release of her debut, The ArchAndroid. “I felt misunderstood,” she says. “I was like, ‘Before I self-destruct, before I become a confused person in front of the world, let me seek some help.’ I was afraid for anybody to see me not at the top of my game. That obsession was too much for me.”
She always ducked questions about her sexuality (“I only date androids” was a stock response) but embedded the real answers in her music. “If you listen to my albums, it’s there,” she says. She cites “Mushrooms & Roses” and “Q.U.E.E.N.,” two songs that reference a character named Mary as an object of affection. In the 45-minute film accompanying Dirty Computer, “Mary Apple” is the name given to female “dirty computers” taken captive and stripped of their real names, one of whom is played by Tessa Thompson. (The actress has been rumored to be Monáe’s girlfriend, though Monáe won’t discuss her dating life.) The original title of “Q.U.E.E.N.,” she notes, was “Q.U.E.E.R.,” and you can still hear the word on the track’s background harmonies.
We’re glad Janelle feels free. Everyone deserves that happiness.