'I was told I'd go to hell': Janelle Monae reveals she was 'terrified' to come out as queer after being raised in a Baptist community that believed 'anything other than heterosexual is a sin'

  • The 33-year-old artist opened up about her journey toward coming out as pensexual in an interview with THEM
  • Speaking to 30-year-old rapper Lizzo in an interview for the brand new LGBTQ community-driven magazine, Janelle said she was 'terrified' to come out 
  • Before coming out in April 2018 in an interview with Rolling Stone, Janelle said she feared that people would think she was coming out as a publicity stunt 
  • She added that she was nervous people she loved wouldn't accept her, and that she wouldn't be able to go home and 'be at all the barbecues' 
  • The Kansas-native said she grew up in a 'very small town' and that she attended a Baptist church 
  • She said: 'To be anything other than heterosexual is a sin in that community, and growing up, I was always told I'd go to hell if I was' 

Janelle Monae has opened up about her experience coming out as queer after being brought up in strict religious setting. 

The 33-year-old singer, from a small town in Kansas, opened up about her sexuality and how she came to be comfortable enough to come out as queer last year in an interview with 30-year-old rapper Lizzo for THEM - an LGBTQ community-driven magazine. 

While discussing her most recent album Dirty Computer, Janelle revealed that having a strict Baptist upbringing made her feel like being 'anything other than heterosexual is a sin'. 

Beauty: Janelle Monae, 33, has revealed that she was terrified to come out as queer, for fear that people would think it was a 'publicity stunt' and for fear she wouldn't be accepted

Beauty: Janelle Monae, 33, has revealed that she was terrified to come out as queer, for fear that people would think it was a 'publicity stunt' and for fear she wouldn't be accepted 

Honest: Opening up to THEM, the Kansas-born artist revealed she had a strict Baptist upbringing, and that 'anything other than heterosexual is a sin in that community'

Honest: Opening up to THEM, the Kansas-born artist revealed she had a strict Baptist upbringing, and that 'anything other than heterosexual is a sin in that community' 

The 33-year-old singer first came out last April in an interview with Rolling Stone, in which she revealed she identifies as pansexual - not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity. 

Revealing that she had been previously in relationships with both men and women, Janelle came out, saying: 'I consider myself to be a free-a** motherf***er.' 

Memorable: The artist came out as pansexual in an interview with Rolling Stone in April 2018, in which she referred to herself as a 'free-a** motherf***er'

Memorable: The artist came out as pansexual in an interview with Rolling Stone in April 2018, in which she referred to herself as a 'free-a** motherf***er'

And speaking to THEM about coming out, Janelle said she was 'terrified' to do so.

'I thought people were gonna say, "Oh, she's doing this as a publicity stunt." I thought I wasn't gonna be able to go back home and be at all the barbecues,' she explained. 

'I had anxiety. And a lot of it was just untrue. It was my fear of what people were gonna say. 

'And I'm thankful that I didn't allow that fear to get in the way of my freedom,' she added. 

When asked if she felt like her album Dirty Computer, which was released in April 2018, was a 'public coming out', Janelle said: 'Well, one, whenever I'm making music, I start with where I honestly am and what I honestly have to say. 

'I work inward, and then I focus outward, on how it can impact people and be helpful to others. But it starts with me,' she said. 

Janelle then revealed that she had had the name of the album for some time, however, she needed to address her sexuality with herself and her family before pouring it into her art.

She said: 'I knew the title of this album since before The ArchAndroid so I've been sitting with it for some time.

Scared: Janelle said that she was always told she would 'go to hell' if she was anything other than heterosexual

Scared: Janelle said that she was always told she would 'go to hell' if she was anything other than heterosexual

'There were just conversations that I had to have with myself and my family about my sexuality and the impact that speaking honestly and truthfully about it through my art would have,' she said.

Janelle said she grew up in the Midwest, where she spent time in Kansas.   

She explained: 'I grew up there, in a very small town, and I went to a Baptist church; to be anything other than heterosexual is a sin in that community, and growing up, I was always told I'd go to hell if I was. 

'There was a part of me that had to deal with what that meant,' she added. 

Janelle said that after having conversations with herself and her therapist, she 'had to be able' to talk about what it meant to be bisexual. 

She said: 'What does that mean? How would discovering that impact the relationship I was in at the time? How do I talk about it with my family? How do I go back to my church?'

Janelle said she needed to come to terms with the fact that those who love and care about her 'may not understand' what it means for her to identify as queer.  

'I’ll also add that it wasn't like I wanted to even make it a declaration,' she said. 'I knew that by being truthful through my art, people were gonna have questions, and I had to figure out a way to talk about it. 

'And in having those talks with myself, I realized it was bigger than just me. There are millions of other folks who are looking for a community. 

Journey: Janelle, pictured at Coachella, said she had conversations with herself and her therapist before she was able to discuss her sexuality and what it meant to by bisexual

Journey: Janelle, pictured at Coachella, said she had conversations with herself and her therapist before she was able to discuss her sexuality and what it meant to by bisexual

Special: Discussing her album Dirty Computer, she said: 'I leaned into the idea that if my own church won't accept me, I'm gonna create my own church' 

'And I just learned into that. I leaned into the idea that if my own church won't accept me, I'm gonna create my own church,' she added.

The 33-year-old singer songwriter aired her thoughts on how she feels about the state of queer acceptance right now, saying: 'To be young, queer, and black in America means that you can be misunderstood.'

Janelle said she thinks there is a lot at stake when someone is 'living out loud in that way', however, she added that this means you can be both 'hated' and 'celebrated and loved'.  

The Kansas-native explained that by being true to herself, she can inspire others to do the same. 

Pictured with actor Issa Rae (R) earlier this month, Janelle's album Dirty Computer was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2019 Grammys

Pictured with actor Issa Rae (R) earlier this month, Janelle's album Dirty Computer was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2019 Grammys 

'I think people are looking for that validation,' she explained. 'When they're trying to talk to their parents and their parents don't see that representation out in the real world and people being accepted like that - it's foreign to them, and I think that by being the example, we make it a little easier for kids to be able to talk to their loved ones about it.' 

Discussing the differences between her two most recent albums Dirty Computer (2018) and The ArchAndroid (2010), Janelle said her character has transformed between the two.   

'With Dirty Computer I made a bigger declaration to myself  - that I'm not putting out an album if I can't be all of me. 

'You're gonna take the blackness, you're gonna take the fact that I love science fiction. You're gonna take the fact that I am a free ass motherfucker. You're gonna take that all in and because that is what you're gonna get,' she said.   

Janelle's hard work and determination with Dirty Computer saw her performing at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in February of this year.

The artist was nominated for the Album of the Year, however, she lost out to Cardi B's Invasion of Privacy. 

The artist is due to appear as one of the headline acts at Coachella, which runs from Friday, April 12 until Sunday, April 21. 

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Janelle Monae reveals she was terrified to come out as queer after strict Baptist upbringing

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