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Janelle Mone Opens Up About 'Being a Queer Black Woman in America'

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Janelle Mone came out as pansexual and she’s owning her identity.


“Being a queer black woman in America,” Mone, 32, said, “someone who has been in relationships with both men and women I consider myself to be a free-ass motherf***er.”

The singer, songwriter and actress shared that she is exploring who she is. She at first believed she was bisexual, until she learned about pansexuality, “and was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too,'” she explained. “I’m open to learning more about who I am.”

How is pansexuality different from bisexuality GLAAD explains, in short, “While being bisexual means being attracted to more than one gender, being pansexual means being attracted to all gender identities, or attracted to people regardless of gender.” A person who is bisexual can be attracted to males or females. Someone who identifies as pansexual can be attracted to people of any gender, including non-binary genders.

She was not always so sure of herself, though. Early on in her career she had insecurities about living up to expectations.

“All I saw was that I was supposed to look a certain way coming into this industry, and I felt like I [didn’t] look like a stereotypical black female artist,” she recalled.

However, fans shouldn’t be surprised at her coming out, she said: “If you listen to my albums, it’s there.” She pointed out two of her songs, “Mushrooms & Roses” and “Q.U.E.E.N.,” as examples, both of which refer affectionately to a woman named Mary. She also explained that “Q.U.E.E.N.”‘s original title was “Q.U.E.E.R.”; you can still hear “queer” in the background of the song.

In one verse she sings:

Hey brother can you save my soul from the devil / Say is it weird to like the way she wear her tights / And is it rude to wear my shades / Am I a freak because I love watching Mary (Maybe) / Hey sister am I good enough for your heaven / Say will your God accept me in my black and white / Will he approve the way I’m made / Or should I reprogram, deprogram and get down

Her latest album, “Dirty Computers,” was released today, and she hopes that young people of all gender and sexual identities can take something away from it.

“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,” Mone said. “This album is for you. Be proud.”

Much of the album was inspired by her own not-so positive experiences.

“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.'”

Mone was born into a large, devout Baptist family in Kansas City. While she did not necessarily sit her family members down and have a formal “coming out” to all of them, her music and videos are telling.

“I literally do not have time to hold a town-hall meeting with my big-ass family and be like, ‘Hey, news flash!'” she joked.

Today, she does not quite identify with her family’s Baptist values, saying, “I serve the God of love.”

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