Singer Janelle Monáe has come out as pansexual. In an interview with Rolling Stone Thursday, the Tightrope singer revealed what genders she has dated and clarified how she identifies.
The singer, who had previously kept her sexuality private, said she’d “been in relationships with both men and women” and was still exploring her identity.
Her interview prompted an outpouring of support, but some felt Rolling Stone’s headline – Janelle Monae Frees Herself – was patronising.
Speaking online, though, the star said she was relaxed about the coverage.
“Yeah, that happens“, Monae told a fan on Reddit who called the headline and others like it, “reductive”.
“I’m also free to let that slide off my back.
“Being an artist sometimes means allowing others to use your image to push an idea based off of something you say or create.
“In this case, I think that there are a lot of people who may find courage in the story (at least I hope).”
She continued: “I’m not in the business of clickbait and what makes people click on something. I’m just trying to be honest and hope that it resonates with the people it’s supposed to resonate with.”
In the Rolling Stone article, Monae – who recently starred in the Oscar-nominated films Moonlight and Hidden Figures – said she had initially considered herself bisexual but once she’d read about pansexuality, she realised: “Oh, these are things that I identify with too.”
“I’m open to learning more about who I am,” she told the music magazine.
The interview prompted a spike in web searches for the term “pansexual”, with the Merriam Webster dictionary reporting an 11,000% increase in people looking up the definition.
What does pansexual mean?
The LGBT group GLAAD says pansexuality covers “anyone attracted to people of all genders or sexes, or regardless of sex or gender.”
Some people use bisexual and pansexual interchangeably – with the latter term coined because of unease over the idea that “bi” implied “binary”.
However, either label can include people who are attracted to those who are trans, gender-fluid, androgynous, intersex and more.
Monae’s new album, Dirty Computer, acknowledges her sexuality with a sense of liberation and self-belief, while addressing the struggles facing marginalized communities in Trump’s America.