Southern songstress Janelle Monáe came out as pansexual last year in a Rolling Stone interview, saying, “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 mother*cker. 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.”
In a new interview with THEM, the “PYNK” singer reveals that it took years for her to be honest about her sexuality, partially due to her upbringing in the Baptist Church.
“I spent time in Kansas. I grew up there, in a very small town, and I went to a Baptist church; to be anything other than heterosexual is a sin in that community, and growing up, I was always told I’d go to hell if I was. There was a part of me that had to deal with what that meant.”
Monáe chose to seek counselling to help process how she would approach coming out not only to fans lso but to friends and family who held more conservative views.
“After I had those conversations with myself and I saw a therapist, I had to be able to talk about what it meant to identify as bisexual. What does that mean? How would discovering that impact the relationship I was in at the time? How do I talk about it with my family? How do I go back to my church? The bottom line is I had to have conversations with myself and the folks that love and care about me, and realize they may not understand what it means for me to be a person who identifies as queer in this world.”
She went on, “I’ll also add that it wasn’t like I wanted to even make it a declaration. I knew that by being truthful through my art, people were gonna have questions, and I had to figure out a way to talk about it. And in having those talks with myself, I realized it was bigger than just me. There are millions of other folks who are looking for a community. And I just leaned into that. I leaned into the idea that if my own church won’t accept me, I’m gonna create my own church.”
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.