Janelle Monáe has come out as queer.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Monáe called herself “a queer black woman” who wasn’t sure if she was bisexual or pansexual, adding: “I’m open to learning more about who I am.”
The 32-year-old singer had previously shied away from revealing her sexuality, but a recent string of songs and music videos celebrating bi and lesbian people hinted at a growing comfort with her identity.
In February, Monáe released a bisexual anthem in the shape of “Make Me Feel” and a feminist track, “Django Jane,” in which she boasts that she “made a fandroid outta yo girlfriend.”
She then made lesbian sex front and centre in “PYNK,” a video which features women touching tongues and Monáe dressed in pussy pants, which Thor: Ragnarok actress and close friend Tessa Thompson emerges from with a wide grin.
In “PYNK,” the two stars gaze at each other seductively over a series of women’s bums, after the singer accepted Thompson’s seductive offering of a lollipop in “Make Me Feel.”
And now, Monáe – who also starred in 2016 Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures – has come out to the public, revealing a part of herself that her family and closest friends were already aware of.
“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,” she said.
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.’
“I’m open to learning more about who I am.”
After her debut album The ArchAndroid was released in 2010, she refuted questions about her sexuality, saying: “The lesbian community has tried to claim me, but I only date androids.
“Nothing like an android, they don’t cheat on you.”
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She said that at that time, she was insecure about herself.
“It had to do with the fear of being judged,” she explained.
“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 also revealed 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.
The singer 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.”
She said it was also a reaction to her homophobic relatives.
“A lot of this album,” she said, “is a reaction to the sting of what it means to hear people in my family say: ‘All gay people are going to hell.'”