Everything you need to know about trailblazing non-binary and pansexual icon Janelle Monáe
Singer and rapper Janelle Monáe arrived at the 65th Annual Grammys wearing a sparkling black gown with silver detailing – paying homage to their standard black-and-white wardrobe.
The singer, who previously said their wardrobe choices are due to having a working-class background, has been making waves for years due to their unique pop and R&B sound.
With their iconic Grammys 2024 look fresh in everyone’s minds, we thought it would be a good time to revisit what we know about this incredible LGBTQ+ trailblazer.
Janelle Monáe’s activism
Monáe is known to be a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, having come out as non-binary in 2022 and telling the Red Table Talk show that she doesn’t see themselves as “a woman, solely” and therefore uses both she and they pronouns.
In a Rolling Stone cover story in 2018, prior to the release of her album Dirty Computer, Monáe came out as pansexual – an attraction to people regardless of their sex or gender.
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Monáe has also previously promised their queer “siblings” that they will do all they can to tackle the many anti-LGBTQ+ bills being passed in the US.
They said: “People need to understand that it’s not just trans people that are getting these sorts of bills passed to erase their existence or to make them feel as though they don’t matter or they don’t deserve human decency.”
“When you think about what’s happening in schools – we can’t talk about the LGBTQI+ communities – we also, in some of these same schools, they are restricting us to talk about books and speak about Black history.”
“They’re trying to erase our history, which is American history. If we’re erasing history, how are we supposed to correct the mistakes that the past has made and create a better future?” they questioned.
Janelle Monáe has been nominated for a Grammy 10 times
Monáe has received 10 nominations at the Grammys throughout her career, including two this year – Album of the Year and Best Progressive R&B Album.
Both are for their fourth album, titled The Age of Pleasure.
In July, Monáe said that the album was meant to be “a soundtrack to our lifestyle”.
She told the Associated Press: “I think this album, like all my albums, reflect[s] exactly where I am at that time. Each album will let you know where I was in my evolution process, what things I had to unlearn, what things I learned. I love that. I love that you can always look at an artist working, sort of see what they were on at that time.”
What is the meaning of Janelle Monáe’s “Lipstick Lover”?
The creative powerhouse recently opened up about the meaning behind her 2023 song “Lipstick Lover”, which is about Monáe’s queer identity.
The song is a joyous celebration of queer Black sexual liberation, made all the more special by the music video accompanying the song as it shows the pansexual star dancing, singing, and kissing her way through a sex-positive pool party.
She told Rolling Stone that the song is about her own experiences at a sex-positive party, which she documented in a spreadsheet.
“I’ve been a lipstick lover. I wear red lipsticks at the parties. I’ve had moments where if me and a girl or an energy [using gender-neutral language] want to engage, you’re going to see lipstick,” they said.
“I remember how it felt when I got kissed on my neck with red lipstick. I remember how I went to bed feeling. It was a deep rouge. It wasn’t matte. I remember the way the person looked. And I was like, ‘That’s a f**king song’.”
Is Janelle Monáe dating anyone?
As of right now, Monáe isn’t linked to anyone romantically – or if they are, it’s being kept under wraps.
The star was rumoured to be dating Tessa Thompson, and Lupita Nyong’o, at various points in recent years but this was never confirmed.
Nyong’o told Rolling Stone in 2023 that she wasn’t “surprised” by the rumours: “She has magnetism that they are obviously picking up on. She is that enigmatic. People are curious about enigmatic people.”
The pair originally met in 2014 at the Met Gala but there was no evidence that they transitioned from a friendship to a romantic relationship – though Nyong’o didn’t “mind being associated with her in any capacity”.
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