Janelle Monáe, who for years would respond to questions about her romantic life with coy answers like, “I only date androids,” has ended the speculation about her sexuality in a new Rolling Stone profile. “Being a queer black woman in America,” she told Brittany Spanos, “someone who has been in relationships with both men and women—I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.” As far as coming out goes, it doesn’t get much clearer than that.
Monáe elaborated, explaining that she used to identify as bisexual but has since come to identify with pansexuality. She has dedicated her new album, Dirty Computer, which comes out on Friday, to people experiencing difficulty figuring out their own sexuality:
“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 says in a tone befitting the commander patch on her arm. “This album is for you. Be proud.”
Over the past few weeks, Monáe has released singles from Dirty Computer with strong queer undercurrents, including “Make Me Feel” and “PYNK,” but this is the first time she has clearly and publicly embraced the label. Both of those music videos co-starred Tessa Thompson, but Monáe would not confirm to RS that the two are dating, as many have assumed. She did admit to Spanos that the original title for “Q.U.E.E.N.”, in which she sings about attraction to a woman but rejects being categorized, was “Q.U.E.E.R.”
Monáe got personal while discussing whether or not she has also come out to her entire large, Baptist family, saying, “I literally do not have time.” Though she notes that “there are people in my life that love me and they have questions,” she also added that “a lot of this album is a reaction to the sting of what it means to hear people in my family say, ‘All gay people are going to hell.’ ”