Janelle Monáe Shares Her Non-Binary Story On 'Red Table Talk'

‘Red Table Talk’: Janelle Monae Talks Non-Binary Identity And Dealing With Religious Family Members, “If They Don’t Love Me, Don’t Call Me To Ask For No Money!”

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‘Red Table Talk’ made it’s return this week and while the new episode wasn’t the slap-spicy chat the world was hoping for, we did get a very honest and raw look at Janelle Monáe like we’ve never seen her before.

Red Table Talk episodic stills featuring Janelle Monáe and her mother

Source: Jordan Fisher / Jordan Fisher

Trailblazing global superstar Janelle Monáe joined the Red Table to share her inspiring message for everyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t fit in or can’t be themselves. The unapologetic Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, actor, fashion icon, LGBTQIA+ superhero and author of the new book “The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer” shared how she overcame her fears of abandonment and healed from the traumatizing effects of her father’s drug addiction. The table was also blessed with a special appearance by Janelle’s fierce and fun-loving mom Janice Hawthorne who spoke about how she believes Janelle, Jada and Willow are chosen. The episode also made a dream come true for a Janelle superfan.

The episode kicked off with Willow revealing that Janelle was at the top of her wish list of “Red Table Talk” guests.

One of the pieces from the interview we’re seeing most in headlines is Janelle’s comments about being non-binary. While at the Red Table, Janelle revealed she believes that God is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she.’

“If I am from God, I am everything,” Janelle Monáe said. “I am everything.”

She added that being non-binary doesn’t mean she’s turned on sisterhood, adding, “I will always, always stand with women. I will always stand with Black women, but I just see everything that I am, beyond the binary.”

She explained that when she meets people she sees their energy and not sexual preference. “I feel like that opens you up to fall in love with any beautiful spirit.”

She went on to say that she had to work it all out on her own before she was ready to discuss it in front of the world. She added that the first step was talking to her deeply religious family members, who refer to her as Little Pumpkin, not Janelle.

“Nobody calls me Janelle, when I go home I’m pumpkin,” Janelle explained.

She said while she questioned what it meant to ‘go against’ her whole family, she was ready to live in her truth.

“I was like, if they don’t love me, don’t ask me for no money,” Janelle joked. “You will not get my LGBTQIA+ money, how about that. I think some of them are still like, ‘well let me be quiet.'”

Janelle also revealed she has been in monogamous relationships and polyamorous relationships.

Red Table Talk episodic stills featuring Janelle Monáe and her mother

Source: Jordan Fisher / Jordan Fisher

That conversation led to the table talking about self-acceptance. Janelle revealed that her father had been addicted to crack cocaine at one point which put her in a place where she was scarred by issues of rejection and abandonment. She and Jada bonded over how they were both affected by their parents’ struggles with addiction. Fortunately, like Gam, Janelle’s dad is now clean and sober and is like a best friend to her, but she admitted that the experience made her want to never suffer another loved one leaving her.

The table also took some questions from Janelle’s fans at home. One of them asked her to talk about one of her biggest heartbreaks and she spoke about how she’d hurt herself many times by beating herself up over what she felt were imperfect performances.  Willow admitted to doing the same.

It quickly became a mutual admiration society, with Janelle applauding Willow for knowing herself at a young age and putting her foot down to say no when she decided to step away from her music career as a kid.

“When I saw you I was flabbergasted,” Janelle told Willow.

It’s funny how that move is one that people still recall so vividly today right? And how incredible for Willow to hear something like that from someone like Janelle who she admires.

Besides Willow Janelle credited Lauryn Hill and Prince as her major inspirations. She called herself a “Lauryn Hill disciple,” and revealed that she always thought Lauryn looked like her family members and when they met Lauryn said the same thing. She also revealed she was inspired by Prince but was ‘scared’ of him before they met. “I had a dream that he would chase me around in a purple suit.”

Pure comedy right? She went on to talk about Prince’s generosity and how he did a great job of pouring into her and helping her navigate the difficult landscape of fame.

“He never allowed his mystery to get in the way of his mentorship,” Janelle said. “We were very close.”


Red Table Talk episodic stills featuring Janelle Monáe and her mother

Source: Jordan Fisher / Jordan Fisher

Another great show highlight was definitely Janelle discussing her upcoming sci-fi short story collection, “The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories Of Dirty Computer” which was co-authored by five Black writers. Inspired by her ‘Dirty Computer’ album, she revealed that the stories revolve around a harsh future where characters who have been deemed deviant, have their memories wiped away so they can be manipulated into the mindset of New Dawn, where the stories are set.

“If you’re a ‘dirty computer,’ if you’re queer, if you don’t share the same religious beliefs, if you buck up against the system in any way, they clean all the memories, they wipe your memory clean so they manipulate you and can make this place called New Dawn what they want it to be,” Janelle explained.

“We don’t stay down, we get up, we fight,” Janelle added. “This is a reminder that in every era if you try to oppress the marginalized you will not win.”


Red Table Talk episodic stills featuring Janelle Monáe and her mother

Source: Jordan Fisher / Jordan Fisher

Janelle’s mom Janice Hawthorne also joined the table, bringing her bubbly enthusiasm to the table. Another great treat is when the show surprises one of Janelle’s biggest fans, Ose, by introducing them.

Red Table Talk episodic stills featuring Janelle Monáe and her mother

Source: Jordan Fisher / Jordan Fisher

You can watch the full interview on Facebook Watch or below:


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