Janelle Monáe proudly comes out as non-binary: ‘I don’t see myself as a woman’

Janelle Monáe wears a black suit jacket, white shirt and collar

Janelle Monáe has come out publicly as non-binary in a heartfelt interview on Red Table Talk, saying the singer is now “beyond the binary”.

Monáe proudly declared that they are non-binary during a chat with Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield Norris on their critically-acclaimed Facebook Watch show. The Grammy-nominated singer didn’t give an update on their preferred pronouns during the interview or on social media. 

“I’m non-binary so I just don’t see myself as a woman, solely,” Monáe explained. “I feel all of my energy. I feel like God is so much bigger than the ‘’he’ or the ‘she’.”

Monáe continued: “And 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 that I am. Beyond the binary.”

The Memory Librarian author opened up about their sexuality in a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone. In the interview, Monáe discussed initially identifying as bisexual and later identified with pansexuality as well, adding she is “open to learning more about who I am”. 

Monáe told the three generations of the Smith family that they see people for their “energy first” rather than the individual’s gender identity. 

“I feel like that opens you up to fall in love with any beautiful spirit,” Monáe added. 

Monáe explained that the process of coming out publicly was deeply personal and was given advice to work out things first before sharing it with others or risk “working it out with the world”. 

“So I thought I needed to have all my answers correct, I don’t want to say the wrong thing, and also I hadn’t had the necessary conversations with my family,” Monáe said.

Janelle Monáe explained that they weren’t “ready to have my family question my personal life” or get calls from those who still “look at me as Little Pumpkin”, a name people “call me back home”.

The “I Like That” singer said their mum had a “lot of questions at first” and described how the entire family is quite religious. 

“I’m just like, ‘Well. what does it mean to go against your whole family on this thing?’ But I was ready,” Monáe said. “I was like, ‘You know what, if they don’t love me, don’t call me asking for no money’ – you will not get my LGBTQIA+ money.”

Janelle Monáe described feeling like they were “playing a version of some parts of me” but is now “owning all of me”. 

“I had to own all of me to really be able to talk about it publicly,” Monáe added. 

Later in the show, Monáe’s mum, Janet, sat down at the Red Table and gushed that Willow “act just like her [Monáe]”, saying the two are a “mess”. 

Janet said Monáe spoke to her before the singer decided to come out publicly about their sexuality and said she was “very understanding”.  She added that she is “very proud” of her child and loves Monáe “unconditionally”

“Nobody will take that away from us,” Janet said.

Janelle Monáe and mother Janet appear during the Oscars

Janelle Monáe and mother Janet arrive for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Robyn BeckAFP via Getty)

Janet admitted that she does get a lot of “backlash” about Janelle Monáe’s identity, but she slammed anyone for trying to “judge” her child. 

“They don’t want the bear to come at ‘em,” Janet added. 

Janelle Monáe has opened up about potentially identifying outside the gender binary in a 2020 interview with Variety. The Moonlight star said they have both “feminine” and “masculine” energy that “I can’t really explain”

“I’m exploring, you know?” Monáe said. “I’m so open to what the universe is teaching me, and teaching all of us about gender.”

The “Pynk” singer added that they “definitely” doesn’t “live my life in a binary way” and has “fought against” what it “means to be a woman and what it means to be a man” throughout their career.