“I feel like God is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she.’ And if I am from God, I am everything,” they said.
Janelle Monáe has come out as nonbinary. The Grammy-nominated singer and actor opened up the Season 5 premiere of Facebook Watch’s Red Table Talk by getting candid with hosts Jaida Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield Norris about their identity. Monae is currently promoting their new queer, sci-fi book The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, which came out on April 19.
Monáe revealed, “I’m nonbinary, so I just don’t see myself as a woman, solely ... I feel like God is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she.’ And if I am from God, I am everything. I am everything. But I will always, always stand with women. I will always stand with Black women. But I just see everything that I am. Beyond the binary.”
They continued, “When I see people, I see your energy first. I don’t see how you identify. And I feel like that opens you up to fall in love with any beautiful spirit.” Monáe also spoke about the difficulty of coming out to their religious family members, admitting, “So I was just like ‘what does it mean to go against your whole family on this thing?’ But I was ready! I was like: if they don't love me, don't call me asking for no money. You will not get my LGBTQIA+ money. How about that?”
The news comes after the multi-hyphenate came out as pansexual in 2018 — someone who is attracted to people of all sexes and genders. At the time they told Rolling Stone, “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.” Monáe had originally come out as bisexual but pivoted, explaining “but then later I 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.” They continued, “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 ... This album is for you. Be proud.”
The album they’re referencing is the critically acclaimed Dirty Computer, on which Monáe toyed with the concept of sexuality — especially in the imagery for the record. In the music video for “Pynk” a pink-hued, psychedelic, sapphic dance party unfolds at a house in the desert, complete with Monáe’s rumored girlfriend, Tessa Thompson, popping out of Monáe’s legs while adorned in a pair of pants styled to look like a vagina. The ode to feminine sexuality, pleasure, and the female reproductive organ itself was not a veiled metaphor. They continued to Rolling Stone, “If you listen to my albums, it's there,” citing other bops “Mushrooms & Roses” and “Q.U.E.E.N.” as referencing a character named Mary as a romantic interest.
Monáe has teased their gender fluidity in the past as well, saying, “I only date androids.” They also tweeted out #IAmNonbinary in 2020, but later said in an interview that it was just “in support of Nonbinary Day and to bring more awareness to the community.” In the Dirty Computer [Emotion Picture] visual album though, the singer extensively plays with the concepts of futurism, god, cyborgs, and the binary. Long story short, if you’ve been paying attention to Monáe’s artistry at all over the years, the news of their gender fluidity shouldn’t come as a surprise — and we congratulate them on their coming out.