It has been almost one year since Janelle Monáe came out to the world. In a cover story for Rolling Stone, Monáe revealed herself as a “queer black woman” just before the release of her groundbreaking, queer-infused album Dirty Computer. Now, the star is looking back on the progress she’s made since them.
In a new cover story for Them, Monáe spoke with fellow recording artist Lizzo about how she ultimately decided to be honest with her audience. The star said she never felt like she had to publicly come out, but decided to do so in order to help her fans who were struggling. “In having those talks with myself, I realized it was bigger than just me,” she said. “There are millions of other folks who are looking for a community. And I just leaned into that.”
Lizzo specifically asked Monáe about sexual freedom and fluidity and the importance of labels, since the “Juice” singer has previously spoken about her own fluidity. Monáe agreed with Lizzo, adding that the important thing is acceptance, not a label. “I think there's so much power in not labeling yourself … there's also power in saying ‘This is how I identify,’” Monáe said. “Everyone is on a journey of self-discovery, and those of us who may not understand others’ journeys should be more empathetic and tolerant and supportive.”
The pair also spoke about the intersection of the Time’s Up movement with LGBTQ acceptance in Hollywood. Monáe said that while she’s proud of the progress made in supporting women, the industry is still severely lacking in queer visibility and acceptance. “The entertainment industry has not caught up. We're making some waves, but we can do better,” she said. “We can’t afford to see things in a binary way. That’s not how the world works.”
The bottom line, Monáe told Lizzo, was her music — she said that she is not interested in releasing anything less honest than Dirty Computer. "With Dirty Computer, I made a bigger declaration to myself — that I'm not putting out an album if I can't be all of me," she said. "You're gonna take the blackness, you're gonna take the fact that I love science fiction. You're gonna take the fact that I am a free ass motherfucker. You're gonna take that all in and because that is what you're gonna get."
Monáe's new interview comes just after her stunning performance at the first night of Coachella, where the star brought all of her usual theatrics to a crowd of thousands. In fact, Monáe even brought Lizzo out on stage for her perfomance of "I Got the Juice."
Check out Janelle Monáe’s full interview with Lizzo here.