Tessa Thompson Explains Her Connection to Janelle Monáe

Neither star is interested in "super-binary conversations" about "identity or sexuality"

By Zach Johnson Aug 20, 2018 12:45 PMTags
Tessa Thompson, The CutAwol Erizku/The Cut

"I currently don't have time to date," actress Tessa Thompson says in The Cut's first-ever print issue, available on newsstands now. "Also, because dating right now requires that somebody gets on a plane, which is fine, but that's a lot to ask when you're first...It's a lot of expectation."

The Sorry to Bother You star is fiercely private about her personal life—and that includes her rumored relationship with singer Janelle Monáe, who told Rolling Stone in April she identifies as pansexual. Thompson—who told The Edit in June she identifies as bisexual­—later denied dating Monáe via Twitter, which confused some fans. "I still haven't read that piece. I was just speaking candidly," she says, matter-of-factly. "I wasn't there to sort of make any declarations."

But were the stars ever a couple? "The truth is Janelle and I are both in a space where we're trying to push boundaries in terms of the idea of what space a woman of color can occupy," Thompson says, explaining they both "believe fiercely that people should be free to love who they love," but are not interested in "super-binary conversations" about "identity or sexuality."

It's a concept they stand for "separately," Thompson explains to The Cut. "And in our friendship," the 34-year-old actress/activist adds, "we celebrate that we're like-minded in that space, too."

Thompson goes on to explain how screen star Greta Garbo allegedly had affairs with women. "And while I found that interesting about her, honestly, when I got done reading about her on Wikipedia, it only just made me want to watch more of her films," she says. "I guess that's sort of the way I feel in general, which is I just want to center the conversation around my work."

As far as dating is concerned, Thompson is wary of using apps or websites to find a partner. She once gave it a try, but she mostly treated it as a social experiment with her friends. "It didn't go well. We had some passive-aggressive and some just like aggressive messages being, like, 'You're not real!'" the actress tells The Cut. "And I was like, 'And you're right, I'm not!' Delete."