“I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.”
Singer, actor, and all-around funk space cadet Janelle Monáe got personal in her recent cover interview with Rolling Stone, released Thursday. The artist declared herself a “queer black woman” and opened up about her journey to embracing her pansexuality.
In the past, the artist had only alluded to her queer identity. “I only date androids” became her well-known response to any prying on the matter.
In this candid interview, she made it clear that not only is she done hiding that part of herself, she plans on continuing to put themes of sexual fluidity and empowerment into her work so that others within the LGBT community can feel seen and heard.
“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,” she said in the interview.
Monáe went on to explain that while she initially considered herself bisexual, the more she learned about pansexuality, the more the identity resonated deeply with her feelings.
“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.”
Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
She also spoke frankly about the pressures of living up to impossible industry standards.
“All I saw was that I was supposed to look a certain way coming into this industry, and I felt like I [didn’t] look like a stereotypical black female artist,” she said.
She cites “Mushrooms & Roses” and “Q.U.E.E.N.,” two songs that reference a character named Mary as an object of affection. In the 45-minute film accompanying Dirty Computer, “Mary Apple” is the name given to female “dirty computers” taken captive and stripped of their real names, one of whom is played by Tessa Thompson. (The actress has been rumored to be Monáe’s girlfriend, though Monáe won’t discuss her dating life.) The original title of “Q.U.E.E.N.,” she notes, was “Q.U.E.E.R.,” and you can still hear the word on the track’s background harmonies.
“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,” she said of her third full-length album, Dirty Computer, which drops Friday. “This album is for you. Be proud.”
Andrew Kelly / Reuters
With songs like “Make Me Feel,” which was quickly hailed as a bisexual anthem, the project runs thick with themes of sexual fluidity and freedom.
In some of the videos that have been released so far, Monáe gets up close and personal with her video costar, actor Tessa Thompson.
So much so that rumors of the two dating quickly followed. Thompson has previously said that their chemistry was strictly for the video, and according to the Rolling Stone interview, she doesn’t discuss her dating life.