Janelle Monáe Wants You to Free Yourself

“We need organizations like this,” he explains Janelle Monae. She is passionate about the Trevor Project, the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ+ youth. Perhaps it’s this zeal that earns Monáe, a Grammy-nominated multihyphenate, the organization’s Suicide Prevention Advocate of the Year Award.

She is the second honoree ever, after last year’s first honoree, the rapper Lil Nas X It’s easy to see why the organization turned to Monáe next. Four years ago, the artist came out as pansexual – a revelation that sparked a spike in Google searches for the term. “It was a big thing for me,” Monáe said in a recent phone call from Los Angeles. “There were a lot of people who texted me and said, ‘Yo, I identify in the same way.'”

Five months ago, Monáe also came out as non-binary in an interview Conversation at the Red Table and shared with Los Angeles Times that she/she uses pronouns. While it was immediately picked up as important news, the revelation felt casual and everything but revealing at the moment, says Monáe. “I think I had probably already talked about it [it] before,” says Monáe, laughing. But that’s how Monáe lives now, speaking freely about her identity, learning and growing in public with the people watching her every move and figuring out how to break free along the way.

In conversation with vanity fair, the artist talks about her recognition from The Trevor Project, her achievement in the highly anticipated Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and the upcoming Josephine Baker series, which she cooks with A24.

vanity fair: How does this recognition through the Trevor Project affect you on a personal level?

Janelle Monae: It hits home. I’ve definitely had moments when my mental health wasn’t at its best. I wanted to have conversations with friends or family who didn’t know I was afraid to share the person I was becoming. I just remember having difficult moments privately that I didn’t talk to anyone about. There are certain people who will not love and accept you if you walk in your truth and I had to deal with that. I had to be willing to let people go who didn’t support me, family members or friends who didn’t want to support me as I walked in my truth.

I remember interviewing you For a vanity fair cover story, you said something very similar about feeling conflicted about sharing elements of your personal life with others and wondering if they would leave you. Is such an acknowledgment perhaps an affirmation in this regard?

Yes. Community is very important. Being affirmed by the community is a human to human need. Just being seen and heard by the people you love and admire and respect means a lot, doesn’t it? I think this recognition brings more awareness of how important community is, how important our sanity is, how important it is to be surrounded by people who lift us up, who can be a beacon for us in times of darkness. We all go through different obstacles. Different stages of happiness and darkness. Hopefully we can figure out how to be more compassionate towards each other and really check each other in.

Different stages of happiness and darkness. I have a feeling this will stick with me. You spoke really nicely in April when you were there Conversation at the Red Table about being nonbinary. I was wondering if you could talk about what led to your decision to share it back then. Was it something you’ve thought about sharing publicly before, or was it a spontaneous thing?

I grow up in public. I had to discover things about myself while becoming popular or famous. One of the things I always do is have conversations with the people that I think should be told that [things] private, not public. It was important to speak to my mother, my immediate family, and my close friends as I shed certain labels and found out more about who I was. And I think when that happened it wasn’t something I had to hide. I’m not looking for confirmation from all over the world. In the Conversation at the Red TableI had the feeling that this was just a casual conversation.

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/09/janelle-monae-trevor-project-interview Janelle Monáe Wants You to Free Yourself

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