Janelle Monáe Said Her Queer Identity "Influences My Decisions and My Work" at the Critics' Choice Awards

An inspiration.

Janelle Monáe attends the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on January 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
(Image credit: Photo by Axelle / Bauer-Griffin / Getty)

Janelle Monáe was honored with the SeeHer Award at the Critics' Choice Awards on Sunday, and her speech was powerful.

She began by stating that her pronouns are "she/her, they/them and free-ass MF," according to People.

The actress said, "I try to make an effort in my work ... to highlight the ones who have been pushed to the margins of society, who've been outcast or relegated to 'the other.'

"This is a deeply personal choice for me because I grew up to working-class parents: My mother was a janitor, my father was a trash man, and my grandmother was a sharecropper in Aberdeen, Mississippi.

"And it's personal because I am non-binary, I am queer, and my identity influences my decisions and my work."

Monáe also admitted that they weren't always so confident in their abilities, and the talent that is so obvious to everyone these days.

"There were so many times in my life, y'all, where I did not see me," they said.

"I couldn't see my light. I couldn't see past my circumstances. If you know my story, I wasn't supposed to make it out of Kansas City, Kansas, to be here tonight. I wasn't."

She added, "I didn't see the vision clearly for myself. I couldn't see my gift. I couldn't see what my purpose was supposed to be at that time. But thank you, God, so many other people did. They didn't give up on me, and they gave me opportunities despite my own lack of confidence. I was fakin' it till I made it."

The takeaway from Monáe's speech? "So to anyone out there like me watching right now, I just want you to know that I see you—but I challenge you to see you."

Sounds like pretty solid advice to me.

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.