“Free-Ass Motherfucker”: Janelle Monáe and the queer spectrum

What Janelle Monáe’s pansexual coming out tells us about the queer spectrum of sexuality

‘”Being a queer black woman in America,” [Monáe] says, taking a breath as she comes out, “someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.”‘ (Rolling Stone)

Whilst this quote undoubtedly speaks for itself – I could just stick a GIF under it and call it a day – it does speak to some wider issues. I’ll do the GIF anyway, but that’s beside the point.

More than just the iconic quote, this Rolling Stone interview tells us two things about the spectrum of sexual attraction

1. It’s entirely valid to move across the spectrum

In the Rolling Stone interview, Monáe says ‘[s]he initially 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.”‘

There’s a lot of confusion about pansexuality and bisexuality, but what we see here is that they’re both labels, both with different meanings to different people.

It’s entirely valid to identify under a certain label for a certain amount of time, and then realise that’s not what you are, or that you’ve changed as a person. We discover different things about ourselves all the time – no one’s sexual identity is a fixed, unchangeable thing. Anyone can be different parts of the non-hetero rainbow at any point – identifying with one colour doesn’t stop you feeling like another!

If you’re curious about your the many different sexual labels, Fumble has this handy list for you!

2. We need to respect people outside of the binary

‘”I need to go through this. We need to go through this. Together. I’m going to make you empathize with dirty computers all around the world.”‘

Computers deal in 1s and 0s. They deal in binaries. We need to stop thinking of this as ‘ordinary’, and we need to think about queer people and acknowledge their existence.

That’s what Monáe tells us in this interview, and why it’s important when people like her come out so publicly.


If, like us, you can’t get enough of her, here’s that amazing music video. Now, where can we get a pair of those trousers?


Read more:

Pansexuality 101