I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, 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. This album is for you. Be proud.
“The film features two characters played by the singer herself – the suit-wearing powerhouse Janelle Monáe and the free-spirited, slightly risqué Janelle Monáe who sashays into a club with Tessa Thompson; she sensuously accepts a lollipop from Thompson while locking eyes with a handsome guy. It may not need explaining, says Monáe, but gossip rags have wondered loudly whether these 33 seconds (and a seemingly affectionate red-carpet appearance) could mean that Monáe and Thompson are dating, or that Monáe is “finally” out of the closet.
Rumours have long been whispered about her sexuality, but Monáe has thus far resisted publicly defining it; she characterises herself again as “sexually liberated” and she declines to frame Make Me Feel in literal terms. “It’s a celebratory song,” she says. “I hope that comes across. That people feel more free, no matter where they are in their lives, that they feel celebrated. Because I’m about women’s empowerment. I’m about agency. I’m about being in control of your narrative and your body. That was personal for me to even talk about: to let people know you don’t own or control me and you will not use my image to defame or denounce other women.”