Janelle Monáe: ‘We must do better for our trans siblings’
Pansexual recording artist Janelle Monáe continues to be a strong advocate for trans and nonbinary people of color.
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In a recent interview with Paper Magazine, Monáe opened up about her advocacy on behalf of the transgender and nonbinary communities.
‘We have to be taught how to deal with bullies and bullies need to be taught the repercussions of bullying somebody,’ the Dirty Computer artist said of bullying.
‘In the same way we want white folks to support us and be better allies and use their privilege to make change in those power dynamics, it’s up to us to protect those who may not be as privileged,’ she continued. ‘Sexual identity needs to be taught in school. There should be courses on mental health, how to coexist, how we can all learn from each other.’
‘I look to Indya Moore, MJ Rodriquez, Janet Mock (my Pose family)… Laverne Cox. Those women are putting themselves and their lives on the frontline everyday,’ Monáe stated. ‘When their trans sisters and brothers get murdered, they feel it. We have to support them. It’s just a responsibility I feel. I could do better. I’ll do better.’
Monáe, who dedicated her recent Grammy nominations to her ‘trans brothers and sisters,’ routinely does her best to uplift those with less privilege than herself. For instance, when she performed her song Americans on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The performance began with Pose’s MJ Rodriguez and various other queer and trans people of color holding each other.
‘I’m just happy that my personal story has also been personal stories for so many other people,’ she said about coming out, despite her fear of it. ‘There’s so many young people who grew up in the South or Baptist families, who were told that they won’t be accepted by Christ. They can listen to [Dirty Computer] and feel hugged. They can feel loved, they can feel seen, they can feel heard. That’s the most beautiful thing.’
Being raised Southern Baptist
‘I’ve seen people get beat up because they were considered to be “too feminine” or “too masculine” for how they identified,’ Monáe recalls of her Southern Baptist upbringing. Some of these people she knew personally, too. For instance, a gay male friend of her aunt who was shunned by the community.
‘It was because of Black men who thought he was trying to come onto them, but he wasn’t,’ Monáe explains. ‘It was their own ignorance and insecurity and fear that led them to lash out.’
‘We have to make sure that we don’t pressure people to come out,’ she said. ‘Everybody doesn’t have the same set of circumstances. There are people, young people in particular, that will be cut off from their family, hanged, or jailed if they walked in their truth. Folks who are not comfortable speaking out about your sexuality publicly, we see you and you are valid and you matter. We have to protect our babies, especially in the LGBTQIA+ community. We have to do better.’
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Author: Rafaella Gunz