Janelle Monáe, on the eve of the release of her album Dirty Computer, is free to tell us what her fans have long suspected: She is queer. Monáe told Rolling Stone for its June cover story, "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."
A free-ass motherfucker.
Interest surrounding Monáe's sexuality increased with the releases of her singles "Pynk" and "Make Me Feel." Both songs — and their accompanying videos — fashioned themselves as odes to bisexuality and the feminine form. Monáe, who has evaded questions about her sexuality for the duration of her career, seemingly didn't want to discuss it in a recent interview with the New York Times Magazine.
"I want it to be very clear that I’m an advocate for women,” Monáe told writer Jenna Wortham, pivoting from the topic entirely. “I’m a girl’s girl, meaning I support women no matter what they choose to do. I’m proud when everybody is taking agency over their image and their bodies."
Monáe stayed mum on the rumour that she is dating actress Tessa Thompson, who appears in the 50-minute "emotion picture" accompanying Dirty Computer. (She also appeared in the music videos for "Pynk" and "Make Me Feel.") Thompson has also dodged the topic of their relationship, telling Entertainment Tonight, "Janelle and I have been really close. We've been really good friends at this point for about three and a half years."
Monáe's admission seems to be a deliberate reveal, a part of her Dirty Computer press tour. This will reportedly be her most revealing album yet. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Monáe explained that, earlier in her career, insecurity drove her to secrecy. She would mask parts of her personality in an effort to appease a broader fan base. But, she explained, if you listen closely (which many fans have), her queerness is present in all her music. She told Rolling Stone that the song "Q.U.E.E.N." was originally titled "Q.U.E.E.R."
Speaking of Dirty Comptuer, Monáe said, "I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracised or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you. This album is for you. Be proud."
Dirty Computer comes out Friday, April 27.