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Janelle Monáe says the response to coming out as non-binary has been extremely positive.
The ‘Knives Out: Glass Onion’ star – who uses she/her and they/them pronouns – came out as non-binary last year and has had a great reaction from the general public.
Monáe told PEOPLE: “It’s been great.
“And I say that because I think that there are a lot more discussions, and that’s so important. I think that all of us want to walk in our truth. We’re just trying to find a name to put with how we feel. And I think that’s always great.
“I try to challenge people to listen. Yeah, you may not necessarily understand. But listening is such a free thing we can do. I think that by listening you can give somebody more compassion, more empathy, and that’s just one more step [to] bridging that gap between us.
“Being non-binary has opened up my mind in terms of the type of art I can make and where I can go, who I can be. I’m all about surprising myself and discovering something new.”
At the Critics Choice Awards earlier this month, the star accepted the seventh annual SeeHer Award, for actors who advocate for equality, defy stereotypes and push boundaries.
Monáe said in the acceptance speech: “I try to make an effort in my work … to highlight the ones who have been pushed to the margins of society, who’ve been outcast or relegated to ‘the other’. This is a deeply personal choice for me because I grew up to working-class parents: My mother was a janitor, my father was a trash man, and my grandmother was a sharecropper in Aberdeen, Mississippi.
“And it’s personal because I am non-binary, I am queer, and my identity influences my decisions and my work.
“So to anyone out there like me watching right now. I just want you to know that I see you—but I challenge you to see you.”