In an inspirational interview with Rolling Stone yesterday, Janelle Monae came out as both queer and pansexual.
"Being a queer black woman in America," the 32-year-old began, "someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker."
Monáe initially identified as bisexual, so she clarifies, "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."
After the interview went viral, lookups of the word pansexual on Merriam Webster rose 11,000% and the term became the most searched word of the day.
'Pansexual' is our top search today. https://t.co/DJ8gUex3qs
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) April 26, 2018
So what exactly does it mean?
"Of, relating to, or characterized by sexual desire or attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation.”
The term entered the English language in the early 20th century, although it originally meant “tending to suffuse all experience and conduct with erotic feeling.”
Twitter applauded Monae for this uptick in visibility:
the best part of @JanelleMonae's coming out, was the inclusion of the very real fact that our sexualities and identities can change as much as we do (if we want). that our language can evolve in whatever ways we need it to. i needed that representation and lots of others do too. https://t.co/jcUApVYhA7
— A Andrews (@alyssashmalyssa) April 27, 2018
THIS MAKES ME HAPPY. YES, MORE EXPOSURE FOR A VALID SEXUALITY!!!!!!! https://t.co/vcJ3OCPu8e
— connor (@expectopotronus) April 27, 2018
The future is bright. https://t.co/xuzKt97vQq
— Tessa Thompson (@TessaThompson_x) April 27, 2018
THE POWER THAT SHE HAS THE INTERNATIONAL IMPLICATIONS THAT SHE HAS https://t.co/l5xnemqOEH
— edu (@EduardoHanzo) April 27, 2018
My pansexual heart is all aflutter right now. Thanks Janelle for being your wonderful self.
— (Alicia G.) NRW @ WICOMICON (@wondrabread) April 27, 2018
— V (@chrrycxla) April 27, 2018