Janelle Monáe has just confirmed she’s non-binary – but this is really the important thing to note
Janelle Monáe has publicly confirmed that she is non-binary – but there’s an important point to note about the star’s pronouns.
Back in 2020, trailblazing star Janelle Monáe tweeted a Steven Universe meme that read, “I’m not a woman, I’m not a man, I’m an experience” alongside the hashtag #IAmNonbinary. In a later interview with Variety about the attention it had garnered, she explained that the tweet was to express support with the community.
“I’m exploring, you know? I’m so open to what the universe is teaching me, and teaching all of us about gender. I definitely don’t live my life in a binary way. I’ve always pushed, as you can see from the way that I dress to the things that I’ve said since the beginning of my career. I have fought against gender norms and what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a man.”
Now, Monáe has confirmed that she is non-binary. In the season five premiere of Red Table Talk, the musician expanded on her gender identity, explaining to co-host Willow Smith that she sees everything “beyond the binary”.
“I’m non-binary, so I just don’t see myself as a woman, solely,” she began. “I feel all of my energy. I feel like God is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she’. If I am from God, I am everything. I am everything, but I will always, always stand with women. I will always stand with Black women. But I just see everything beyond the binary.”
When asked by Smith about speaking her truth, Monáe answered: “Somebody said, ‘If you don’t work out the things that you need to work out first before you share with the world, then you’ll be working it out with the world.’ That’s what I didn’t want to do. So I thought I needed to have all my answers correct, I don’t want to say the wrong thing.”
Monáe added that she sees the energy of people over their gender or sex.
“I don’t see how you identify,” she said. “And I feel like that opens you up to fall in love with whoever, with any beautiful spirit.”
The Grammy nominee, who previously came out as pansexual in a 2018 Rolling Stone cover story, went on to explain that she was navigating the process of having conversations with her family about her gender identity.
“I wasn’t ready to have my family question my personal life or get calls from people who still look at me as Little Pumpkin – that’s what they call me back home,” she said.
“I needed to talk to my dad, who was just great. My sister knew already because I’ve been in monogamous relationships; I’ve been in polyamorous relationships. But I knew that I couldn’t be Little Pumpkin. I couldn’t be little Janelle.
“My whole family is church, church, church. And I’m just like, well, what does it mean to go against your whole family on this thing? But I was ready. I was like, you know what, if they don’t love me, don’t call me asking me for no money. You will not get my LGBTQIA+ money.”
While it’s brilliant that Monáe has found the right time to share this news, it’s important to remember that while the artist now identifies as non-binary – a term that describes someone whose gender identity is neither exclusively male nor female – that doesn’t automatically mean that she goes by the pronouns they/them.
A representative for Monáe, in fact, has confirmed to Rolling Stone that the artist still uses she/her pronouns.
In a tweet sharing the news, reporter Jo Yurcaba noted that they had seen people using they/them pronouns for Janelle Monáe, even though she has never explicitly stated her preference for them.
“I noticed that folks (myself included, at first) have jumped to use they/them pronouns for Janelle Monáe, even though she has never said that’s what she wants,” they wrote.
“Good reminder that non-binary people can use any pronouns.”
“She responded: “That was not me. I think people can call me whatever it is they want to call me. I know who I am. I know my journey. And I don’t have to declare anything.”
Monáe, who is about to release a new collection of stories entitled The Memory Librarian, and will star in Netflix’s murder mystery Knives Out 2 later this year, also explained in the Red Table Talk sit-down that she wasn’t afraid of losing people from her life who took objection to her being her authentic, unapologetic self.
“There are going to be recurring characters,” she said. “There are going to be folks that won’t make it back for the second act, and we have to just be fine with letting go. You go to different levels in your life. Everybody can’t come.”
Amen to that.
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