Rumors of singer Janelle Monáe’s queerness have been circulating the internet for years now. Thanks to the imagery in many of her music videos and songs, along with her cryptic answers to questions about her sexuality, such as “I only date androids,” fans have openly wondered if the R&B artist was LGBTQ.
Now, the rumors have finally been confirmed: Monáe says she identifies as a queer woman in her cover story for Rolling Stone Thursday (April 26). “Being a black queer woman in America, someone who has been in relationships with both men and women,” she begins, “I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.’”
Monáe points out that in her music, especially on songs like “Q.U.E.E.N.” and “Mushrooms & Roses,” she was never truly hiding anything. “If you listen to my albums it’s there,” she says, later noting that the original title of the song “Q.U.E.E.N.” was supposed to be “Q.U.E.E.R.”
But the singer admits that she hadn’t always been completely sure of how to label herself. She tells Rolling Stone that initially she decided to identify as bisexual, but “later I read about pansexuality and I was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too,” she says. “I’m open to learning more about myself.”
The cover story, written by Rolling Stone staff writer Brittany Spanos for the magazine’s May 3 issue, covers much of the singer’s life — from early childhood to her new album Dirty Computer, which releases tomorrow.
Monáe says that more than anything, she wants her fans to be able to feel as though they were understood, especially when looking up to her. “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,” the singer says. “This album is for you. Be proud.”
Watch the video for “I Like That” off of Monáe’s upcoming album Dirty Computer below.