As Janelle Monáe sings her new album, Dirty Computer, "Let the rumors be true."
In a Rolling Stone cover story, the "Make Me Feel" singer speaks candidly about her sexual orientation for the first time ever. "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 motherf--ker," she says. She first 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."
Pansexuality is described as the sexual or emotional attraction toward someone regardless of sex or gender identity. GLAAD points out that, "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."
Monáe has been linked to actress Tessa Thompson, but she refuses to discuss her dating life. She always dodged rumors about her sexuality, but says, "If you listen to my albums, it's there."
The "Pynk" singer is close with her large, extended family, but she hasn't discussed her sexual orientation with everyone—yet. "I literally do not have time to hold a town-hall meeting with my big-ass family and be like, 'Hey, news flash!'" she laughs. She worries they'll bring it up when she visits Kansas City (her hometown). "There are people in my life that love me and they have questions," Monáe explains, "and I guess when I get there, I'll have to answer those questions."
Unwittingly, her family influenced her new music. "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," Monáe says. With Dirty Computer, out Apr. 27, she hopes to begin a conversation that leads to acceptance. "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," she tells Rolling Stone. "This album is for you. Be proud."
For more from Monáe, pick up the May 17-30 issue of Rolling Stone.