In a Rolling Stone cover story out today, singer Janelle Monáe came out as pansexual. She’s previously not addressed speculation about her sexuality, but in the interview with Brittany Spanos, said: “Being a queer black woman in America…someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.”
Previously, Monáe had honed a persona as an androgynous space cadet who once said, “I only date androids” in regards to her sexuality. She explained that was a defensive mechanism because she “felt like I [didn’t] look like a stereotypical black female artist.” She explained to Spanos that she originally identified as bisexual but “read about pansexuality and was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’ I’m open to learning more about who I am.”
There has also been speculation about her relationship with actress Tessa Thompson. In an interview earlier this month with the New York Times, Monáe declined to elaborate on her relationship with Thompson. The Rolling Stone interview also talked beautifully about the singer’s pioneering music style.
Years before Frank Ocean, Solange, Beyoncé and SZA pushed arty, alternative R&B to the mainstream, Monáe was already there, bridging the gap between neo-soul and all that was to come, unafraid to fuse rock, funk, hip-hop.
Her new album Dirty Computer comes out tomorrow, and it features the likes of Brian Wilson and Pharrell. While it may have a sci-fi name, the album itself is all about real-life human emotion, exploring insecurities and finding your own sexual freedom. The album, Monáe says, is for anyone who considers themselves to be a dirty computer too.
“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,” Janelle Monáe told Rolling Stone. “This album is for you. Be proud.”