janelle monae pansexual

Mark Sebastian/Flickr (CC-BY-SA) Tess Cagle

‘Pansexual’ searches dominate Merriam-Webster after Janelle Monae interview

Some folks weren't sure about the difference between pansexuality and bisexuality.


Tess Cagle


Posted on Apr 27, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 5:20 pm CDT

The term “pansexual” became the most-searched word on Merriam-Webster’s website after singer Janelle Monae said she identified with it in an interview with Rolling Stone on Thursday.

In the interview for a story that appears on the front cover of the magazine’s May issue, Monae told Rolling Stone writer Brittany Spanos that she recently realized she was pansexual, not bisexual.

“Being a queer black woman in America … someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker,” she said. She initially identified as bisexual, “but then 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.”

Merriam-Webster defines pansexual as, “of, relating to, or characterized by sexual desire or attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation.” Meanwhile, it defines bisexual as, “of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to members of both sexes.”


The dictionary said lookups of the term rose 11,000 percent on April 26. Folks who either identify as pansexual or advocate for those who do praised Monae for helping educate the masses.




Even actress Tessa Thompson—a close friend of Monae who many speculate may actually be in a secret romance with the singer—tweeted her support. Spanos was also pretty excited to see the impact of the story she wrote.


This is a big week for Monae. On top of the publication of her Rolling Stone cover story, her third studio album, Dirty Computer, dropped on Friday. She embarks on a U.S. tour for the album in June.  

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*First Published: Apr 27, 2018, 8:33 am CDT