During most of her career, Janelle Monáe has been plagued with talks about her sexuality. She was rumored to be dating actress Tessa Thompson and in 2018, the Grammy-nominated artist revealed in a Rolling Stoneinterview that she identified as pansexual after thinking she was bisexual for so long. She has been on a quest to learn more about who she is and is taking us on the journey with her. In the season five premiere of Red Table Talk with hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris, the Hidden Figures star opened up about her identity once more.
“I’m nonbinary, so I just don’t see myself as a woman, solely,” she said. “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. 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.”
She 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.”
Prior to Janelle, other celebrities like Amandla Stenberg and Demi Lovato announced that they identified as nonbinary. The “I Like It” singer explained what made her share the news publicly.
“Well, you know, 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,’” she explained. “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. I wasn’t ready to have my family question my personal life.”
The 36-year-old singer/actress comes from a big religious family and grew up in Kansas City. When she finally shared her sexuality and identity with her family, she said her mother had a lot of questions, but her dad was “great” and her sister already knew.
“My whole family is church, church, church and I’m just like well what does it mean to go against your whole family on this thing? But I was ready. I was like, ‘You know what? If they don’t love me, don’t call me asking me for no money,’” she said. “‘You will not get my LGBTQIA+ money.’” She joked that some of her family members may have a problem with who she is but opt to stay quiet because they “may need something.”
While her journey may not be over, she is taking full accountability for who she is and who she wants to become.
“I know who I am,” she said. “I’ve been playing a version of some parts of me, but now I’m owning all of me. I had to own all of me to really be able to talk about it publicly.”
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Featured image by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI