“There’s so much pressure on young people to choose an identity… it’s like ‘how?’”

WORDS BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE VIA INSTAGRAM @JANELLEMONAE

Gay klaxon sound: Janelle Monáe has spoken to Them about all things gender and sexuality. Even louder gay klaxon sound: Lizzo interviewed her. What’s not to love?

Here’s DIVA’s take on five things Janelle Monáe has just taught us about gender and sexuality.

1. Sexuality can be fluid.

Sexuality can be set in stone, but it can also be the opposite: “I’ve seen people come out in their 40s and 50s. Yet there’s so much pressure on young people to choose an identity… it’s like ‘how?’” Kudos Janelle, kudos.

2. Music by LGBTQI artists is as political as it is uplifting.

“When you just look at the state of the world, and when I’m working on an album like Dirty Computer that is centered around uplifting marginalised groups and those who feel isolated and outcast from our society, this album couldn’t wait.” In Janelle’s world, self-care is more than a day at the spa or a social media detox. It’s being unapologetic; it’s speaking out against injustice; it’s sticking up for ourselves and for our queer siblings.

3. Gender and sexuality are both a spectrum: it’s harmful to see them as binary.

“We can’t afford to see things in a binary way. That’s not how the world works.” Need we elaborate on this? As Janelle put it, the world needs to catch up. Things are moving in favour of change, and its important that LGBTQI people are at the forefront of that narrative.

4. Celebrities get nervous about coming out too.

It’s easy to assume that it’s a walk in the park for celebs to come out. All that money, all that fame, and all that media attention makes it easy, right? Wrong. “I thought I wasn’t gonna be able to go back home and be at all the barbecues. I had anxiety.”

5. You are in control of your own story. Your narrative is yours.

Janelle is completely unapologetic when it comes to her identity: she’s not afraid to take up space and own it. “I’m not putting out an album if I can’t be all of me. You’re gonna take the blackness.” Society likes to label us, telling us what we are, what we aren’t, and what we should be. Miss Monáe isn’t having any of that.

Self-care can be political, but it can also be as simple as just existing: just living life, as your authentic, queer self, and not giving a damn.

Now those, DIVAs, are words to live by.

Only reading DIVA online? You’re missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It’s pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.

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