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Janelle Monae says she's pansexual: Here's what that means

By Leah Groth ; Updated April 30, 2018

Janelle Monae has declared herself a “queer black woman,” specifically identifying with the sexual orientation of pansexual in a powerful new interview.

The singer and actress, known for her androgynous dress and android-like persona — her alter ego is android Cindi Mayweather, after all — has dodged questions about her sexual orientation for most of her career. The 32-year-old, who once told a reporter “I only date androids,” has decided to address the “rumors” and officially hop out of the closet in a brand-new interview. However, she isn’t straight or gay or even bisexual — she identifies with a more inclusive label you may have never heard of.

“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 mother****er,” she revealed to Rolling Stone. The “Hidden Figures” star explains 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.”

So what exactly is pansexuality? “When someone identifies as pansexual, it means they are simply just attracted to all people, no matter what that other person’s gender or sexual orientation might be,” psychotherapist Hannah Beaver, LCSW, tells LIVESTRONG.COM. While bisexuality isn’t necessarily exclusive of other gender identifications and sexuality labels (such as nonbinary, transexual, etc.), pansexuality is a more explicitly inclusive expression of sexuality.

“It is more about finding the attraction based on the individual person and their personality, regardless of any type of gender specifics. When compared to bisexuality and other similar labels, there are a lot of overlaps, but pansexual is really the one that embodies all humans,” Beaver adds.

Other stars who identify with pansexuality include Miley Cyrus, rapper Angel Haze and Jazz Jennings.

Monae’s interview corresponded with the release of her latest album, “Dirty Computer,” which is not only an expression of her trials and tribulations of coming out to the world — as well as to her religious Baptist family — but is also dedicated to young people struggling with their own sexuality.

“A lot of this album is a reaction to the sting of what it means to hear people in my family say, ‘All gay people are going to hell,’” she explained. “I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you. This album is for you. Be proud.”

Whether Monae is straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual — or even an android who dates only androids — the most important thing is that she is comfortable with her sexuality. We applaud her for boldly opening up about her personal life and sexual preferences, because even though it is nobody’s business but her own, her confident way of coming out of the closet will surely inspire others to do the same.

Read more: 21 Times Celebrities Were Our Self-Love Heroes

What Do YOU Think?

Are you surprised that Janelle Monae has come out as pansexual? Are you familiar with pansexuality? Do you think more people will identify with it?

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