“I’m non-binary, so I just don’t see myself as a woman solely,” they told the Red Table Talk women. “I feel all of my energy. I feel like God is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she.’ And if I am from God, I am everything.”
Back in 2020, the singer tweeted using the hashtag #IAmNonbinary, spurring conversation around the artist’s gender identity. However, they later stated the tweet came from “support of Non-Binary Day and to bring more awareness to the community.” Now, Monáe reflects on this moment and how they simply weren’t ready to share this information with the world yet.
“Somebody said, ‘If you don’t work out the things that you need to work out first before you share with the world, then you’ll be working it out with the world,’” Monáe says. “That’s what I didn’t want to do. So I thought I needed to have all my answers correct, I don’t want to say the wrong thing.”
“And also I hadn’t had the necessary conversations with my family,” they continue. “I wasn’t ready to have my family question my personal life or get calls from people who still look at me as Little Pumpkin—that’s what they call me back home. […] I needed to talk to my dad who was just great. My sister knew already because I’ve been in monogamous relationships, I’ve been in polyamorous relationships. But I knew that I couldn’t be Little Pumpkin. I couldn’t be little Janelle.”
Monáe officially came out as pansexual in 2018, and during a recent interview with the LA Times, they said their pronouns are they/them and she/her.
Monáe’s musical work very much emphasizes the non-binary through an afro-futuristic, Metropolis-inspired lens. Their music’s primarily about cultivating a life outside of heteronormativity, cis-ness, whiteness, and standing firm in who you are. Works like Dirty Computer remain pivotal in this writer’s own understanding of her sexuality and gender, and it’s stellar to see them so thoughtfully express this aspect of their identity. Kudos to Janelle!