In an interview with Rolling Stone, Janelle Monáe has finally confirmed the career-long rumors about her sexuality—which have ramped up in intensity since the release of new visuals from her forthcoming album Dirty Computer, heavily featuring actor Tessa Thompson.
Within the first few paragraphs of the profile, Monáe cuts right to the chase:
“Being a queer black woman in America,” she says, taking a breath as she comes out, “someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.” She initially identified as bisexual, she clarifies, “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.”
Monae has been doing a fair amount of press in anticipation of her album release, which is due on April 27. As with all her interviews up to this one, she has assiduously avoided giving a straight answer about her sexuality to anyone who would ask—a hard stance she’s adopted since at least 2011. Monae recently spoke to the New York Times and demurred when the subject came up. “I hope people feel celebrated,” she said of the rampant speculation about her relationship with Thompson. “I hope they feel love. I hope they feel seen.”
The answer to this burning question was (almost) out there in plain sight.
She always ducked questions about her sexuality (“I only date androids” was a stock response) but embedded the real answers in her music. “If you listen to my albums, it’s there,” she says. 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.
Read the rest of the profile here.