In the past, Janelle Monáe had been coy or quiet about her sexuality. But she certainly isn’t when talking about the issue in a new Rolling Stone cover story, in which she says she’s had relationships with both men and women and currently identifies as pansexual.
“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-ass motherfucker,” she says. While she initially considered herself bisexual, “I read about pansexuality and was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’ I’m open to learning more about who I am.”
The four videos the singer has released in advance of her third full-length album, “Dirty Computer,” which arrives on Friday, include many sexual themes — including some almost comically overt references in the video for the song “Pynk” — and the 45-minute “emotion picture” that accompanies the album and which premieres on MTV and BET today elaborates on the point even more, in which we see Monae being intimate with both a male actor and her co-star, “Westworld” and “Selma” star Tessa Thompson. The singer premiered the film in a private screening at New York’s Lincoln Center on Monday.
Monae also announced initial dates for the “Dirty Computer” tour, which launches in Seattle on June 11.
In the five years since her last album, “Electric Lady,” Monae has toured, landed star-making acting appearances in “Hidden Figures” and Oscar Best Picture “Moonlight,” launched her Wondaland label (home to Jidenna, St. Beauty and others) and gave a rousing #TimesUp-themed speech at the Grammy Awards in January.