Sexual Health and Identity

Janelle Monáe Brings Visibility to Pansexual Identities

Pansexuality is not the same as bisexuality.

Janelle Monáe came out as pansexual last week, bringing visibility to a sexual identity not usually discussed in major LGBTQ+ conversations. Bisexuality and pansexuality tend to get lumped together in the same category. This erasure of pansexuality is problematic for people who identify as such. Bisexuality, by definition, is being attracted to more than one gender. People who identify as pansexual experience emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to people of any gender.

A study done by the Human Rights Campaign in 2014 showed 24 percent of bisexual youth are excluded by their peers because they are different.

32 percent of pansexual youth experience the same. Only ten percent of bisexual youth said they “definitely fit in” in their community. Four percent of pansexual individuals said the same.

Pansexuality is not discussed often in mainstream LGBTQ+ conversations.

Many queer youth don’t even know they can identify as pansexual. In her coming out interview with “Rolling Stone,” Monáe said she originally identified as bisexual.

“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,” she said. “I want young girls, young boys, non-binary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you.”

Pansexual
Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Representation matters.

When an influential artist is proud of her sexual identity, it can inspire queer youth to feel the same. That statement could make them proud to be who they are. It could make them comfortable enough to come out confidently. Monáe’s security in her own sexual orientation could change someone’s life forever for the better.

 Janelle Monáe’s new album “Dirty Computer” dropped on April 27.

The album is an unapologetic representation of Monáe’s identity as a queer black woman. She embodies ‘the personal is political.’ She uses her experiences to create musical anthems for people who may have never had one before. Monáe continues to defy societal expectations to provide music and statements full of strength and grace. She’s paving paths for groundbreaking music and acceptance of sexual identities.

Cover Image via Presley Ann – Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

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Also published on Medium.

Mariel Cariker is a recent graduate of Boston University, where she...