It has been almost one year since Janelle Monáe came out to the world. In a cover story for Rolling Stone, Monáe revealed herself as a “queer black woman” just before the release of her groundbreaking, queer-infused album Dirty Computer. Now, the star is looking back on the progress she’s made since them.
In a new cover story for Them, Monáe spoke with fellow recording artist Lizzo about how she ultimately decided to be honest with her audience. The star said she never felt like she had to publicly come out, but decided to do so in order to help her fans who were struggling. “In having those talks with myself, I realized it was bigger than just me,” she said. “There are millions of other folks who are looking for a community. And I just leaned into that.”
Lizzo specifically asked Monáe about sexual freedom and fluidity and the importance of labels, since the “Juice” singer has previously spoken about her own fluidity. Monáe agreed with Lizzo, adding that the important thing is acceptance, not a label. “I think there's so much power in not labeling yourself … there's also power in saying ‘This is how I identify,’” Monáe said. “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.”