Janelle Monáe says she was “terrified” to come out as queer

“I thought I wasn’t gonna be able to go back home and be at all the barbecues. I had anxiety.”

Janelle Monáe has revealed she was “terrified” when she came out as queer last year.

The multi-talented singer, producer, actress and model confirmed it for the first time in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2018, telling the publication: “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.

“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. 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.”

In a new cover story for them, Lizzo – who conducted the interview – told the star of her coming out: “Well, listen, sis. People were lit to know that you were queer as fuck. It was exciting,” to which she responded: “I was terrified.”

Janelle continued: “I thought people were gonna say, “Oh, she’s doing this as a publicity stunt.” I thought I wasn’t gonna be able to go back home and be at all the barbecues. I had anxiety. And a lot of it was just untrue. It was my fear of what people were gonna say. And I’m thankful that I didn’t allow that fear to get in the way of my freedom.

“I just hope we can get to a point where black women who don’t identify as strictly heterosexual are normalized. It’s about normalizing and telling more stories, and inviting more LGBTQIA+ folks into the conversation on the front end, and giving us a seat at the table early on. Because we can’t afford to see things in a binary way. That’s not how the world works.”

Janelle released her third studio album Dirty Computer last year to widespread acclaim from critics. It spawned singles such as Make Me Feel, Pynk, Django Jane, I Like That and Screwed.

Later this year, Janelle will perform at one of London’s biggest venues, Wembley Arena (2 July), followed by a show in Manchester two days later for their International Festival (4 July).

The acclaimed performer – who made her theatrical film debut in Hidden Figures – has also landed a role in the upcoming biopic of the abolitionist and political activist, Harriet Tubman.

She will star alongside Cynthia Erivo, who plays the iconic abolitionist and political activist. The film will follow her escape from slavery and heroism during the pre-Civil War era. Janelle’s role is currently unknown.

Related: Janelle Monáe feels she has a “responsibility to protect my brothers and sisters in the LGBTQIA+ community”.

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