Janelle Monáe is opening up about her gender identity. While appearing on Red Table Talk on Wednesday, Monáe — who previously came out as pansexual in 2018 on the cover of Rolling Stone — revealed publicly that she is non-binary.
“I just don’t see myself as a woman solely. I feel all of my energy. I feel like God is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she,’ she said. “And if I am from God, 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.”
Monáe added that when she looks at people, she sees their “energy first” before their gender expression. “That opens you up to fall in love with any beautiful spirit,” she said. (A rep for Monáe confirmed to Rolling Stone that the singer continues to use she/her pronouns.)
Willow Smith then asked Monáe what helped bring her to the point of feeling safe to speak her truth. “Somebody said, ‘If you don’t work out the things that you need to work out first before you share with the world, then you’ll be working it out with the world,’” Monáe said. “That’s what I didn’t want to do. So I thought I needed to have all my answers correct, I don’t want to say the wrong thing.”
She added that she hadn’t yet had conversations with her family about what her gender identity really meant to her. “I wasn’t ready to have my family question my personal life or get calls from people who still look at me as Little Pumpkin — that’s what they call me back home,” she said. “I needed to talk to my dad, who was just great. My sister knew already because I’ve been in monogamous relationships; I’ve been in polyamorous relationships. But I knew that I couldn’t be Little Pumpkin. I couldn’t be little Janelle.”
The Red Table Talk episode served as the return of the show helmed by Jada Pinkett Smith. It’s the first episode since Will Smith slapped Chris Rock during the Oscars earlier this year, which was addressed by a message onscreen before the episode.
“Considering all that has happened in the last few weeks, the Smith family has been focusing on deep healing. Some of the discoveries around our healing will be shared at the table when the time calls,” the message read. “Until then, the table will continue offering itself to powerful, inspiring, and healing testimonies like that of our incredibly impressive first guest. Thanks for joining us, Jada.”
Monáe — who dropped her memoir The Memory Librarian last week — opened up about her sexuality in 2018 to Rolling Stone. “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 said at the time. She initially identified as bisexual, “but then later 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.”