Janelle Monae recently gave a candid interview with Rolling Stone magazine about herself and romantic life, as she promoted her her new album, Dirty Computer — which Bustle called “Pure, Unadulterated Queer Black Girl Magic — and dropped and dropping a video for the entire album.
The album video stars actress Tessa Thompson — she and Monae have been rumored to be dating, but neither has publicly confirmed it. Monae has been private about her romantic life before, but in the interview she comes out, 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 motherf*cker.” The magazine says that she considered herself bisexual until she read about pansexuality and said ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’ I’m open to learning more about who I am.”
If you’re not familiar with pansexuality, it’s okay, you’re not the only one; Merriam-Webster said there was an 11,000% search spike after Monae’s Rolling Stone interview came out. Pansexual means of, relating to, or characterized by sexual desire or attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation or that her attraction to a person is non-binary. Pansexuals are attracted to cisgendered men and women, transgendered men and women, bisexual men and women, queer men and women, or rather they *love* from the inside out.
While this is the first time Monae was publicly confirmed her sexual orientation, she says it’s always been there in the music. “If you listen to my albums, it’s there,” Monae tells Rolling Stone, referencing “Mushrooms & Roses” and “Q.U.E.E.N.” — two songs from previous albums that center around a character named Mary as an object of affection. Artists sometimes like to give glimpses and peeks at their lives through their work and Monae has been no exception. Rolling Stone describes Dirty Computer lyrics as “flesh-and-blood confessions of both physical and emotional insecurity, punctuated with sexual liberation.”
This album is clearly all Monae, her style and her story, as she is aware of the stigmata Black Queer women still face and her album is a call of acceptance of oneself, totally and fully. The “Dirty Computer” music video opens with Monae strapped to table in a lab, with a voice telling her she’s a dirty computer and is she ready to be cleaned, clearly a metaphor for how others view the LGBTQ community.
It seems to be also why she chose to star in Oscar-winning films Moonlight and Hidden Figures, both led by black casts. “Our stories are being erased, basically,” she says of her attachment to those scripts, which made her “want to tell my story.”
Black, queer women face still face a huge amount of racism and discrimination today, even from their own communities, as a lot of “safe spaces” are predominately white or the women face discrimination from their own families and friends when they long for acceptance. This is probably why Monae’s album has themes of love and community for black queer folks, as Bustle points out, especially the title track, in which she prays to God for love and guidance, after the affirmation of her queer identity. “I need to go through this. We need to go through this. Together. I’m going to make you empathize with dirty computers all around the world,” she says.
Dirty Computer is out now. Don’t forget to watch its accompanying video — which she calls an “emotion picture” — up above, which has more than 718,000 views, as of press time.