Janelle Monáe was announced as them. magazine cover star of its debut issue. The songstress is responsible for her hit album, Dirty Computer. The album was about embracing the freedom one finds in self-exploration and discovery. Prior to its release, Janelle Monáe came out about her queer sexuality. She came out revealing she’s a pansexual in an interview with Rolling Stone last year.
For them.‘s debut cover story, Janelle Monáe discusses coming out, freedom and living out loud, in a sit down with Lizzo.
Excerpts from her interview
On her freedom, living and loving out loud
“To be young, queer, and Black in America means that you can be misunderstood. You can be hated. It also means that you can be celebrated and loved. And I think that there’s a lot at stake when you’re living out loud in that way.”
On her sexuality journey
“It’s been a journey. For me, sexuality and s****l identity and fluidity is a journey. It’s not a destination. I’ve discovered so much about myself over the years as I’ve evolved and grown and spent time with myself and loved ones. That’s the exciting thing — always finding out new things about who you are. And that’s what I love about life. It takes us on journeys that not even we ourselves sometimes are prepared for. You just adapt to where you are and how you’ve evolved as a free thinking person.”
For those who are struggling with their sexuality or coming out
“Don’t allow yourself to feel any pressure other than the pressure you put on you. And I think there’s so much power in not labelling yourself. That said, there’s also power in saying, “This is how I identify,” and having community with the folks you identify with. Everyone is on a journey of self-discovery, and those of us who may not understand others’ journeys should be more empathetic and tolerant and supportive.
“A big thing for me is just being patient with myself, and not allowing myself to make decisions based in fear, or a fear of people not understanding me. And it’s hard. You go through experiences where you feel fearful, and you end up being depressed, or having anxiety, and not taking care of you. But that fear should not get in the way of how you love or who you love.”
On how she feels about Dirty Computer being seen as a coming out album
“I knew the title of this album since before The ArchAndroid, so I’ve been sitting with it for some time. There were just conversations that I had to have with myself and my family about my sexuality and the impact that speaking honestly and truthfully about it through my art would have. I grew up in the Midwest; you did, too. You spent time in Minneapolis. I spent time in Kansas. 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. There was a part of me that had to deal with what that meant.
“After I had those conversations with myself and I saw a therapist, I had to be able to talk about what it meant to identify as bisexual.”
On how she feels about the state of queer acceptance in 2019
“How do I feel about it? I mean, to be young, queer and black in America means that you can be misunderstood. You can be hated. It also means that you can be celebrated and loved. And I think there’s a lot at stake when you’re living out loud in that way. One thing I’ve realised even more was that when you walk in your truth, you can inspire and encourage people to walk in theirs’.”