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Janelle Monáe says she was ‘terrified’ to come out as queer

Precious Adesina April 15, 2019
Janelle Monae at the Grammys.

Janelle Monae hopes her coming out will help kids come out to their families. (ROBYN BECK/Getty)

Janelle Monáe has revealed that she was “terrified” over what others would think of her after coming out as pansexual.

The 33-year-old singer spoke about her sexuality for the first time in an interview with Rolling Stone last April.

In a cover story for LGBT+ community-driven magazine them, Monáe said she was “terrified” and worried people would think it was a publicity stunt.

“I had anxiety. And a lot of it was just untrue,” the singer explained to rapper Lizzo in the interview for them. “I’m thankful that I didn’t allow that fear to get in the way of my freedom.”

While speaking about her new album, Dirty Computer, Monáe noted that being a black woman can often make coming out even more difficult.

“To be young, queer, and black in America means that you can be misunderstood,” she said. “I just hope we can get to a point where black women who don’t identify as strictly heterosexual are normalised.”

Janelle Monae’s small town upbringing

Monáe said she felt upbringing in Kansas played a part in her difficulties coming out.

“I grew up there, in a very small town, and I went to a Baptist church; to be anything other than heterosexual is a sin in that community, and growing up, I was always told I’d go to hell if I was,” she explained.

“I think that by being the example, we make it a little easier for kids to be able to talk to their loved ones about it.”

— Janelle Monáe

But after speaking to a therapist Monáe was able to talk about her feelings regarding her sexuality and “what it meant to identify as bisexual.”

Monáe at 2018 BET Awards.
Monáe came out as pansexual last year. (Leon Bennett/Getty)

Monáe added: “What does that mean? How would discovering that impact the relationship I was in at the time? How do I talk about it with my family? How do I go back to my church?”

By addressing what was bothering her, the singer said she concluded that “if my own church won’t accept me, I’m gonna create my own church.”

Janelle Monáe hopes her coming out will inspire others

Monáe also added that she hopes being true to herself will encourage others to do the same.

“I think that by being the example, we make it a little easier for kids to be able to talk to their loved ones about it,” she said. “When they’re trying to talk to their parents and their parents don’t see that representation out in the real world and people being accepted like that – it’s foreign to them.”

Monáe performed the single “Make Me Feel” from her Dirty Computer album at the 2019 Grammy Awards in February. She was also nominated for Album of the Year.

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