Hidden Figures star Janelle Monáe sat down with Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris for the latest episode of Red Table Talk, but no they didn’t talk about the Will Smith-Chris Rock Oscars altercation (more on that later). Instead, Janelle set the record straight on where she identifies on the gender spectrum.
“I’m non-binary, so I just don’t see myself as a woman, solely,” she told the co-hosts. “I feel like God is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she.’ And if I am from God, I am everything.”
Her rep told Rolling Stone that the Dirty Computer singer will continue to use she/her pronouns, and she echoed that sentiment during the RTT episode, telling the co-hosts, “I am everything, but I will always, always stand with women. I will always stand with Black women. But I just see everything beyond the binary.”
In another interview this week with The Los Angeles Times, however, the singer said, "My pronouns are free-ass motherf*cker and they/them, her/she."
This isn’t the first time she has spoken about where she situates herself on the spectrum. In 2018, she told Rolling Stone she was pansexual and queer.
"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," they told the outlet back then. Saying she originally saw herself as bisexual, she clarified "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."
In 2020, she also tweeted the hashtag #IAmNonBinary but she explained to The Cut that it was in support of the Non-Binary community, rather than a statement on herself.
“I tweeted the #IAmNonbinary hashtag in support of Nonbinary Day and to bring more awareness to the community,” she said at the time. “I retweeted the Steven Universe meme ‘Are you a boy or a girl? I’m an experience’ because it resonated with me, especially as someone who has pushed boundaries of gender since the beginning of my career. I feel my feminine energy, my masculine energy, and energy I can’t even explain.”
Now, as she tells the RTT panel, it was a long walk from those first admissions in 2018 to fully comprehending her own self.
“Somebody said, ‘If you don’t work out the things that you need to work out first before you share with the world, then you’ll be working it out with the world.' That’s what I didn’t want to do,” she explained. “So I thought I needed to have all my answers correct. I don’t want to say the wrong thing.”
She continued, “I wasn’t ready to have my family question my personal life or get calls from people who still look at me as Little Pumpkin — that’s what they call me back home.”
“I needed to talk to my dad, who was just great. My sister knew already because I’ve been in monogamous relationships; I’ve been in polyamorous relationships. But I knew that I couldn’t be Little Pumpkin. I couldn’t be little Janelle,” she explained.
This RTT episode was also the first after the Will Smith-Chris Rock Oscars altercation at the end of March, and right off the top, host Jada made sure to address how her family is processing that moment, and its repercussions going forward.
“Considering all that has happened in the last few weeks, the Smith family has been focused on deep healing,” a black title card stated at the beginning of the episode. “Some of the discoveries around our healing will be shared at the table when the time calls. Until then the table will continue offering itself to powerful, inspiring and healing testimonies like that of our incredibly impressive first guest.” The title card then ended with, “Thanks for joining us,” before being signed off by Jada.
Janelle will be seen next in Knives Out 2, the sequel to the wildly successful 2019 murder mystery, which we can watch on Netflix later this year.