Absolute queen Janelle Monáe has come out as queer.
It feels like this moment has been a long-time coming, but of course there’s no reason why she needed to come out at all.
“Being a queer black woman,” she told Rolling Stone, “someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.”
She originally identified as bisexual, “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.”
The artist and actress has long dodged questions around her sexuality, despite releasing a bisexual pride anthem in the form of ‘Make Me Feel‘, casting friend (and long-rumoured girlfriend / lover / gal pal) Tessa Thompson as her love interest in visual album Dirty Computer, and literally having Tessa pop outta her vagina pants.
The world: I mean we don’t KNOW that Janelle and/or Tessa are queer and/or together.
Janelle Monae: Here is a video in which Tessa literally peers out from my vagina. pic.twitter.com/1OHWh7t8az
— Alanna supports the WGA (@AlannaBennett) April 10, 2018
As Rolling Stone notes, Monáe’s stock-standard answer to questions about her sexuality was “I only date androids”, but she says the real answers are in her music.
“If you listen to my albums, it’s there,” she says.
‘Mushrooms & Roses‘ and ‘Q.U.E.E.N.‘ (which was originally called ‘Q.U.E.E.R‘) both reference a character called “Mary” as an object of affection. In Dirty Computer, Mary Apple is the name given to female “dirty computers” – one of whom is played by Thompson – taken captive and stripped of their real names.
She told Rolling Stone that “I literally do not have the time” to tell her massive, devoutly religious family back in Kansas City that she’s queer, but expresses concerns about how they’ll react to her sexuality (the interview takes place after the video for ‘Make Me Feel’ came out, a sexually-charged clip that shows Monáe bouncing from a man to Thompson).
“There are people in my life that love me and they have questions, and I guess when I get there, I’ll have to answer those questions,” she said. “A lot of this album is a reaction to the sting of what it means to hear people in my family say, ‘All gay people are going to hell.’”
She later spoke about how Dirty Computer has themes of sexual liberation and gaining the courage to be true to yourself.
“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. This album is for you. Be proud.”
Although Monáe refuses to speak about her dating life, she came very, very close to confirming something to the New York Times earlier this month.
I asked Monáe what she thought of the internet’s speculation about her romantic relationship with Thompson. Watching her as she decided on a response was like watching a mathematician working out Fermat’s Last Theorem. Gears were churning; calculations were being made. Finally, she laughed, raised her eyebrows and deflected: “I hope people feel celebrated,” she said. “I hope they feel love. I hope they feel seen.” It was late into the evening, and I was conscious of how long we’d been talking — at least two hours — and let it drop. But the issue lingered for me, especially the more times I watched her film.
Monáe hasn’t tweeted about coming out, but fans are celebrating.
— ✨ Caroline D Framke ✨ (@carolineframke) April 26, 2018
We been knew Janelle Monáe was a member of the tribe. But in an America where the LGBT murder rate has gone up by nearly 90%, and when queer black folks are erased in both queer and black communities, a famous black woman stood proudly and claimed her queerness
That’s important pic.twitter.com/zUCfoLpibV
— Robert De Negro (@baizeodu) April 26, 2018
Today is an extremely good day. Also, the Dirty Computer visual album is premiering within hours. Get ready.