Janelle Monáe Says She Knew She Was Attracted to Men and Women at Age 8

Now that it's pride month, Janelle Monae shares that she already knew that she was attracted to both men and women at 8 years old. 

This year, Janelle Monae attended her first ever Pride parade in New Orleans, and for her recent Paper magazine cover interview, she shared how that event went for her, and how she's been advocating for the LGBTQIA community. 

Monae came out as pansexual right before releasing "Dirty Computer," and she calls her self free. She is a champion of free gender expression in the way she dresses, and in many of her songs. 

Realizing her Sexuality

Growing up in Kansas City and a member of the Christian faith, she shares she realized she was queer at such a young age. 

"I was like eight. I don't think I actually knew how I identified.  I knew that I was attracted to women, girls, men, boys. I knew that." 

Being raised in a rural and religious area, it was difficult for Monae to ask questions about her sexuality without feeling ostracized. 

"I've seen people get beat up because they were considered to be 'too feminine' or 'too masculine' for how they identified."

Acknowledging the Challenges of the LGBTQIA Community

However, she acknowledges that not everyone has the opportunity to come out whenever they want, as they are not born under the same circumstances. Now that it's pride month, she says people shouldn't feel pressured to come out. 

"We have to make sure that we don't pressure people to come out. Everybody doesn't have the same set of circumstances. There are people, young people in particular, that will be cut off from their family, hanged or jailed if they walked in their truth. Folks who are not comfortable speaking out about your sexuality publicly, we see you and you are valid and you matter. We have to protect our babies, especially in the LGBTQIA+ community. We have to do better. "

For her two Grammy nominations, she dedicated them to her "trans brothers and sisters [who are] shunned from these sorts of events." Her album "Dirty Computer" is also full of anthems for marginalized sectors of society, which she says are reflections and understandings of her own. 

"I'm just happy that my personal story has also been personal stories for so many other people. There's so many young people who grew up in the South or Baptist families, who were told that they won't be accepted by Christ. They can listen to this album and feel hugged. They can feel loved. They can feel seen. They can feel heard. That's the most beautiful thing." 

A Message of Acceptance

She also made sure to let people know that while not everyone in society will welcome them for who they are, she will. Monae also reassures those who aren't comfortable speaking out about their sexuality that they are valid and that they matter.

"Folks who are not comfortable speaking out about your sexuality publicly, we see you and you are valid and you matter."

Last year, Monae was linked to Tessa Thompson, a rumor that sprung after she identified herself as pansexual. However, they made it clear that they love each other deeply as friends. 

“We love each other deeply. We’re so close, we vibrate on the same frequency. If people want to speculate about what we are, that’s okay. It doesn’t bother me.”

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