In April, Janelle Monáe came out as pansexual in her Rolling Stone cover story. “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 the publication.
Now, in an interview with Emmy-winning screenwriter and actor Lena Waithe for Hypebeast, the singer opens up about her decision to go public with her sexuality.
“This was a very personal story that was not necessarily just about me but it was about a community of folks who have been pushed to the margins of society. You know like I know, our stories are being erased. They’re not being told. People don’t realize that being free, being a free ass motherfucker, comes with sacrifice,” Monáe tells Waithe.
While Monae acknowledges that not everyone is as fortunate in their situation as her (“there are some people in different parts of the world, and right here in America, where they can be ostracized from their community and killed for living out loud,” she says), she hopes that troubled youth can find solace in her album.
“Kids in high school and middle school are committing suicide because they don’t feel like they would be accepted if they were walking in their truth. And, what I wanted to do with Dirty Computer is to create a community. Create a community where you can go to a concert and connect to people that are like us and all the dirty computers around the world,” Monáe says.
In the interview, Waithe reveals that “pansexual” was the “number one Merriam-Webster word the day” when Monáe came out publicly. And while she admits it can be exhausting to constantly discuss her sexuality, Monáe knows it’s important to use her platform to educate folks. In fact, she said she knew her coming out would be important to members of her family: “I had younger cousins in my family who were being ostracized by some of our family. Some family members were using the Bible to justify their behavior. They just could not understand that lifestyle. And they couldn’t understand what it meant to be queer.”
She adds: “And then at the same time, you have our Vice President Mike Pence talking about conversion therapy. You have homophobic people who are in support of those in power who are homophobic. And it felt like this is the time that I need to speak up and to help celebrate people like my little cousins. People around the world who feel like they don’t matter, that they’re misunderstood. That they should be pushed to the margins of society and ostracized from society and changed and reprogrammed and cleansed because of who they are.”