Monáe explained that they never felt aligned to the gender binary and added that they connected more with people's energy than gender.
Musician and actor Janelle Monáe confirmed they are nonbinary during an interview on a talk show hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith. “I’m nonbinary, so I just don’t see myself as a woman, solely,” said Monáe during the episode of "Red Table Talk" released on Wednesday. “I feel all of my energy. I feel like God is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she.’ If I am from God, I am everything. I am everything, but I will always, always stand with women. I will always stand with Black women. But I just see everything beyond the binary,” they said, reported NBC News. Nonbinary is used to describe someone whose gender identity isn't limited to the gender binary of male or female. Jada Pinkett Smith was also accompanied by her daughter, Willow Smith, and her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris.
Monáe added that they rarely see people through the gender binary prism but rather as just people. “I don’t see how you identify,” they said. “And I feel like that opens you up to fall in love with whoever, with any beautiful spirit.” This is the first time Monáe has identified as nonbinary. They tweeted the hashtag “#IAmNonbinary” in January 2020 but later clarified that they were just showing support for "Nonbinary Day" and wanted to raise more awareness about the community. “I retweeted the ‘Steven Universe’ meme ‘Are you a boy or a girl? I’m an experience’ because it resonated with me, especially as someone who has pushed boundaries of gender since the beginning of my career,” Monáe told Gay. “I feel my feminine energy, my masculine energy, and energy I can’t even explain,” they said.
They have been open about not conforming to the gender binary. “I’m so open to what the universe is teaching me, and teaching all of us about gender,” they said. In 2018, Monáe came out as pansexual, someone who is attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender. "I’m open to learning more about who I am,” they said in Rolling Stone Magazine. Willow Smith asked Monáe what spurred them to come out as nonbinary now, and they replied, “I thought I needed to have all my answers correct. I don’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 a little pumpkin,” which is what their family calls them.
Monáe's family is very religious which made it hard for them to accept their identity. "I grew up in a very religious family. I grew up baptist and conservative. I didn't like that and I had to create my own world," they said. “My whole family is church, church, church. And I’m just like, well, what does it mean to go against your whole family on this thing?” they said, before adding it wasn't going to stop them. "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.”
The actor also recalled being rejected during their childhood because they didn't have gender-stereotypical features. They felt rejected at school because they didn't have long hair like their friends. They were also dealing with abandonment issues as their father was dealing with substance misuse. Monáe was afraid of being abandoned for not being perfect. Pinkett Smith told Monáe that it wasn't necessary that everyone would agree with them accepting themself but said it was important to let go of those people. “There are going to be recurring characters,” said Monáe. “There are going to be folks that won’t make it back for the second act, and we have to just be fine with letting go. You go to different levels in your life. Everybody can’t come.”