Janelle Monaé’s new album fights back at anti-LGBTQ+ laws

Singer Janelle Monae in a Black Dress

Janelle Monae’s new album, ‘The Age of Pleasure’ is her first album since 2018’s Dirty Computer and is said to be a powerful response to the anti-LGBTQ+ laws that have been sweeping the US.

The album comes amidst a record number of US bills targeting LGBTQ+ rights in Republican-controlled states, with trans people and drag performers particularly affected by the legislation.

A total of 283 proposed bills target schools, including those which aim to limit discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom, along with bills aiming to prevent trans youth from accessing vital gender-affirming healthcare, and several states have proposed bills that would ban drag performances.

Monaé said: “You respond by fighting back, by speaking against, standing with our trans community, my siblings. As a non-binary, queer, pansexual person, I am proud to be in this community … I will never sit back and be silent about the injustices that are happening against our trans community.”

The singer who acknowledged and embraced her sexuality in public for the first time in 2018, now identifies as non-binary, and says she feels more “free” to express herself since ‘coming out’ and uses both she/her and they/them pronouns.

She said: “That was super nerve wracking, to have to deal with everything that comes with that. The pressures of constantly talking about it. But understanding that I’m now non-binary freed me up. It makes the music better, it makes the art better, it makes you feel more fluid, more free.”

In addition to speaking up for the queer community, Monáe is also keen to convey how the legislation passing in the US is also steeped in racism. Several of the Bills outlaw the teaching of African American history and hundreds of books that address racial injustice (as well as LGBTQ+ issues) have been banned in schools and libraries across the US.

She said: “People need to understand that it’s not just trans people that are getting these sorts of bills passed to erase their existence or to make them feel as though they don’t matter, or they don’t deserve human decency. It’s also Black folks. When you think about what’s happening in schools…they are restricting us talking about books and speaking about Black history. They’re trying to erase our history, which is American history. If we’re erasing history, how are we supposed to correct the mistakes that the past has made and create a better future?”

The music superstar has long been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and has often used her platform to stand up for the LGBTQ+ community but has been particularly vocal in recent years about the need to fight back against discrimination,  and using her music to inspire and empower listeners.

She has promised the queer community that she will do whatever she can to tackle the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being passed across the US, with support from celebrities including RuPaul, actor Kevin Bacon and The Little Mermaid’s Melissa McCarthy, who have all spoken out against the bills, and vowed to challenge them in whatever way they can.

She said: “They want us to not enjoy life, they want us to be miserable, to feel like we don’t belong. We have to fight this every way. With this project I am making it very known that, even in the midst of these heavy times, we’re going to celebrate ourselves, we’re going to create a safe space for ourselves and we’re going to enjoy this life.”

The star is also taking practical action with her Fem The Future charity, which provides grants to under-resourced girls and non-binary youth in music, the arts and education.

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