Janelle Monáe has been hesitant to publicly define her sexuality in the past, but with the upcoming release of her new album Dirty Computer, the singer has gained the confidence to share with the world her sexual identity.
“Being a black queer woman in America, someone who has been in relationships with both men and women, I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker," she told Rolling Stone in their latest cover story.
The 32-year-old clarified that although she initially identified as bisexual, the more she learned about pansexuality, the more she felt that was her true identity. "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," she said.
According to sexologist Dr. Carlen Costa, pansexuality is the "sexual, romantic, emotional, physical or spiritual attraction to people, regardless of their specific gender identity or sexual expression.”
Monáe also told the magazine that some fans may not be shocked by her revelations, because she's been dropping subtle hints along the way. “If you listen to my albums it’s there," she said, citing “Mushrooms & Roses” and “Q.U.E.E.N.” as two songs that reference "Mary" as an object of affection. Monáe added that “Q.U.E.E.N." was initially titled “Q.U.E.E.R.,” and that those words are still audible in the track.
Perhaps one of the biggest indications that Monáe was ready to come out was the release of her Dirty Computer "emotion picture," which featured her rumored girlfriend Tessa Thompson.
Thompson spoke with Entertainment Tonight in February about collaborating with Monáe in the album.
"Janelle is somebody who is interested in really empowering not just women, but people to be who they are in the full expression of who they are,” Thompson told. “The truth is when people look at me and Janelle and these characters that we play in the music video, people have called it a bisexual anthem, if it makes people feel liberated in their skin and feel closer to who they are than I think we did our job.”
Thompson also made appearances in Dirty Computer's "PYNK" and "Make Me Feel," which Monáe said was a "celebratory song."
“I hope that comes across. That people feel more free, no matter where they are in their lives, that they feel celebrated," she told The Guardian in February. "Because I’m about women’s empowerment. I’m about agency. I’m about being in control of your narrative and your body. That was personal for me to even talk about: to let people know you don’t own or control me and you will not use my image to defame or denounce other women.”
In Rolling Stone, Monáe also discussed wanting to be an inspiration for others through her music. “I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you," she said. “This album is for you. Be proud.”