After years of avoiding questions about her sexuality, Janelle Monáe Robinson has emerged from the closet as a pansexual. Pansexuality is an emotional or sexual attraction toward people of no particular sex or gender identity. Often pansexuals, also called omnisexuals, refer to themselves as gender-blind or attracted to all genders because a person’s sex is irrelevant when determining if there is an attraction. Initially identifying as a bisexual, the singer learned more about pansexuality and now claims ownership to many of its identifying factors.
The “Hidden Figures” actress has long been an advocate for women’s equality as well as the LGBTQ community. Although many already suspected Janelle to be connected to the gay and lesbian community as more than just an advocate, until now, the singer refused to publicly express her sexual preference. Recently, she admitted to currently dating and being in love with actress Tessa Thompson. After exiting the closet as a pansexual, Janelle Monáe said:
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-a** motherfu**er.
Although the term pansexual seems fairly new, it already has a flag with its own colors to increase recognition and visibility for the pansexual community. The Pansexual Pride Flag has three horizontal bars of blue, yellow and pink; each color represents different spectrums such as male, female and non-binary.
Pansexual comes from the word pansexualism, which dates back to 1917. At the time, the term was a concept which described the universal influence of sexual instinct in all human activity. Often credited to Sigmund Freud, it originally meant “the pervasion of all conduct and experience with sexual emotions.” A former LGBT youth worker said:
During my time pansexual was not even on the plate, Non-Binary was just a meaning for ‘you are confused.’ So I congratulate the evolution of terminology but I am still scratching my head over pansexual. I struggled long and hard to get equal rights just for gays, lesbians, and transsexuals as a part of the media. So hey…if pans and non-binaries are now in the code too….welcome aboard!
Citing Grace Jones and Josephine Baker as role models, the songwriter emerged in a tuxedo as her signature style. During a 2011 interview, the model claimed to only date “androids.” Janelle often included the android “alter-ego” in many of her songs. When asked about the reference, she said:
I speak about androids because I think the android represents the new ‘Other’. You can compare it to being a lesbian or being a gay man or being a black woman… what I want is for people who feel oppressed or feel like the ‘Other’ to connect with the music and to feel like, ‘She represents who I am.’
Although pansexuality has been listed in places as a sub-sect of bisexuality, using them interchangeably is insulting because bisexuals are typically binary and pansexuals are not. Pansexuals can be attracted to people who identify as transgender, cisgender, intersex, androgynous and others.
It has been nearly five years since the record producer released a new album. However, she has not left the public eye. From movies to awards speeches, Janelle Monáe continues to keep her brand relevant. The “Electric Lady” has been busy working on her new project “Dirty Computer,” which releases on Friday, April 27, 2018. Whether to stir a buzz or simply free herself, Janelle Monáe exits the closet as a pansexual.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
MTO News: Pop Singer Janelle Monae Just CAME OUT . . . As a LESBIAN!! (Dating Tessa Thompson)
Heavy: What Is a Pansexual? 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
Pitchfork: Janelle Monáe Comes Out as Pansexual
All Images Courtesy of Adam Salsman’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License