Janelle Monáe Speaks About Coming Out as Nonbinary: "I'm Owning All of Me"

Trailblazing global superstar Janelle Monáe joins the Red Table and shares her inspiring message for anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t fit in or can’t be themselves. This unapologetic Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, actor, fashion icon, LGBTQIA+ superhero, and author of the new book "The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer" reveals what inspired her to come out later in life. Janelle shares how she overcame her fears of abandonment and healed from the traumatizing effects of her father’s drug addiction. Then, a special appearance by Janelle’s fierce and fun-loving mom shakes up the Table. Plus, a dream comes true for a Janelle superfan.

Janelle Monáe opened up about coming out as nonbinary during the April 20 episode of “Red Table Talk.” Speaking to hosts Jada Pinkett-Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris, Monáe — who came out as pansexual in a 2018 Rolling Stone cover interview — candidly explained their journey with coming out to their family and the world.

“I’m nonbinary, so I just don’t see myself as a woman solely,” she said while promoting their new anthology of Afrofuturist fiction, “The Memory Librarian.” “I feel all of my energy. I feel like God is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she,’ and if I am from God, I’m everything. I will always stand with women; I will always stand with Black women; but I just see everything that I am beyond the binary. When I see people, I see your energy first. I don’t see how you identify. I feel like that opens you up to fall in love with any beautiful spirit.”

Monáe wasn’t always ready to explore their gender identity publicly, but did show support for the nonbinary community in 2020 when they tweeted “#IAmNonbinary,” which they posted to “bring more awareness to the community,” according to The Cut. Continuing her discussion on “Red Table Talk,” Monáe said, “Somebody said, if you don’t work out the things that you need to work out first, before you share it with the world, then you’re working it out with the world,” they said. “That’s what I didn’t want to do. I thought I needed to have all my answers correct. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing, and also I hadn’t had the necessary conversations with my family. I wasn’t ready to have my family question my personal life or get calls from people that still look at me as Lil’ Pumpkin — that’s what they call me back home. So it took me some time to be like, ‘OK, mom . . . ‘”

Recalling her journey, Monáe — who comes from a deeply religious background — explained that her mother, father, and sister were all highly supportive, while more distant family members were less understanding. “I was like, ‘You know what? If they don’t love me, don’t call me asking me for no money. You will not get my LGBTQIA+ money,'” they said. “But I needed to have those conversations [privately]. I didn’t want to work that out with the world . . . I know who I am. I’ve been playing a version of some parts of me but now I’m owning all of me. I had to own all of me to really be able to talk about it publicly.”

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