Janelle Monáe came out as queer today.
The Dirty Computer singer told Rolling Stone: “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**ker.”
The star explained that she had identified as bisexual at first, “but then later I read about pansexuality and was like: ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’”
She ended with an admirable sentiment, saying: “I’m open to learning more about who I am.”
There you have it: Monáe defines herself as queer.
But you wouldn’t think that if you had read CBS News, USA Today, Yahoo!, Newsweek, Elle, Marie Claire, NME, E! News, AV Club, HelloGiggles, Spin or Pitchfork.
In all of these publications – many of which are world-renowned – the headline for the singer’s beautiful coming out story was some variation of “Janelle Monáe comes out as pansexual.”
Of course, queer can be used as an umbrella term that includes – among other identities – bisexuality and pansexuality.
But Monáe didn’t come out as pansexual.
She came out as queer.
The star – who also played a main role in 2016 Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures – was very clear about her sexuality, calling herself “a queer black woman.”
Monáe initially labelled herself as bi, then related to aspects of pansexuality. But crucially, she chose to define herself as queer – and we all should as well.
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Misidentifying someone in terms of their sexuality is never okay.
Some may not like using the word queer, because they’re uncomfortable with a term that has historically been used in a pejorative way, to insult and demean LGBT people.
The word has been reclaimed by many members of the community, mostly those who are sexually attracted to more than one gender, or whose gender does not fit into the male-female binary.
And most importantly, Monáe identifies as queer.
It should not be hard to read what someone has defined themselves as and then repeat that – and it’s vital to do so when you have a platform which, in some cases, means you’re writing for millions of readers.
The singer also revealed on Thursday that the original title of her hit 2013 song “Q.U.E.E.N.” was “Q.U.E.E.R.” – and that you can still hear “queer” being sung in the background.
She added that her new album Dirty Computer – which drops on April 27 – was dedicated to LGBT people.
“I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracised or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you,” she said.
“This album is for you. Be proud.”