Why Janelle Monáe’s Lipstick Lover is a Proud Second for Black and Queer Individuals

(Image: Michael Buckner/Selection by way of Getty Photos)

‘I like lipstick on my neck’ is how Janelle Monáe’s new music begins. 

The opening scene within the video options the singer caressing the hips and thighs of a scantily clad lady, earlier than unravelling into three minutes and 26 seconds of the Blackest, queerest music video I’ve seen shortly. 

The video is for the one, Lipstick Lover – soon-to-be featured on Janelle Monáe’s first album for the reason that launch of their iconic Soiled Pc, 5 years in the past. 

Monáe’s new album, The Age of Pleasure, is ready to return out on June 9 – which additionally occurs to be the beginning of Delight month. And if that’s not an indication this album is for the queers I don’t know what’s. 

Final week, I hadn’t seen any promotion for the video and had no concept Monáe even had a brand new music out, however my Twitter timeline was going wild, so I went to hunt it out.

And I’m so glad I did, as a result of I’m obsessed. 

After I first noticed it, all I may take into consideration was how a lot I like being queer

After I’m not watching it on YouTube, I’m listening to the music on Spotify. It’s unapologetically Black and it’s unapologetically queer. 

The age-restricted video is ready at a horny queer Black pool occasion, with Monáe surrounded by folks in numerous states of undress and pleasure. After I first noticed it, all I may take into consideration was how a lot I like being queer, how enjoyable that pool occasion appears and the way would I’m going about getting an invitation? 

Lots of people, particularly those that are Black and queer, felt the identical – celebrating the video’s gayness, with its unapologetic shows of intercourse and nudity.

Rising up as a Black lady in a Christian family, intercourse and my sexuality was not one thing I felt in a position to specific. It wasn’t doable to debate it in my home, and I didn’t see optimistic representations of Black sexuality wherever. 

Black girls had been within the background of music movies, gyrating in bikinis and slapped by males, whereas used as props. Take Nelly’s notorious 2003 video for Tip Drill the place he makes use of a girl’s butt crack as a register to swipe his bank card, for instance.

However the Lipstick Lover video turns that on its head. The our bodies represented right here appear like me and my pals – celebrated, reasonably than used.

This video means a lot to me as a result of it’s so refreshing to see a Black queer particular person in Hollywood be so unapologetic about their sexuality – and never be afraid of stepping out of the packing containers that individuals attempt to put them in. 

Janelle Monae, Street Style  - Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021 : Day Eight

Monáe has been well-known for serving appears in some severe fits, which led them to be seen because the poster little one for modesty (Image: Hanna Lassen/Getty Photos)

Monáe, who got here out as pansexual in 2018, and non-binary in 2022, is free from the constraints of heteronormativity – and this video is an ideal solution to have fun that. 

Particularly since Monáe has been well-known for serving appears in some severe fits, which led them to be seen because the poster little one for modesty – implying to some that ladies didn’t must be bare, or promote their physique to achieve success.

However, in a 2018 interview with the Breakfast Membership, the singer explains how they didn’t agree with the way in which some folks had been utilizing the way in which they gown to police girls. 

Janelle Monae at the13th Annual Met Gala After Party

Although Monáe has by no means been afraid to speak about intercourse, that is the boldest model of that but (Image: Lexie Moreland/WWD by way of Getty Photos)

Monáe spoke out in opposition to their picture getting used to ‘demean girls’, saying: ‘As a result of I used to be sporting a tuxedo, and also you hadn’t seen my pores and skin, folks thought I used to be purposefully […] protecting as much as be an instance of methods to be correct’ – and didn’t take it as a ‘praise’.

Although Monáe has by no means been afraid to speak about intercourse, that is the boldest model of that but. Moderately than being hidden in innuendos, this video options Janelle Monáe mendacity on a mattress of vibrators, as a substitute. 

Celebrating pleasure and their queerness in probably the most full-frontal approach doable.

Nonetheless, not all the reactions had been optimistic, with some even accusing the singer of out of the blue ‘waking up’ and deciding to make use of intercourse to promote their music – claiming the video was hyper-sexualised.

However to these of us who’ve been paying consideration, this isn’t the primary time Monáe has spoken about intercourse of their music, or referenced it of their movies. 

The video to Pynk the place Monáe and their back-up dancers are sporting pink trousers that mimic the form of labia is an ideal instance of this. Monáe’s music has all the time referenced sexuality, however in Lipstick Lover, the lyrics are clear and never hidden behind innuendos. 

Monáe doesn’t appear fazed by the backlash in any respect, both – tweeting: ‘Titties out for the subsequent 15 years’ – implying that they’re not giving up anytime quickly.

This music video is particularly for the Black queer girlies. 

It’s about proudly owning your sexuality, one thing many Black queer girls and non-binary folks battle with in a world that tells you that doing precisely that’s flawed. 

It’s a celebratory reminder that it’s so enjoyable and horny to be Black and queer – and I find it irresistible. 


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