Janelle Monáe and Tessa Thompson in the Dirty Computer emotion picture. Image courtesy Janelle Monáe YouTube
Janelle Monáe’s new Prince-influenced album Dirty Computer has been released, along with a 48 minute ‘emotion picture’ movie starring Monáe and her rumoured girlfriend, actress Tessa Thompson.
Janelle and Tessa play lovers ripped apart by a totalitarian regime that considers them “dirty computers” who need to be cleansed of their memories so they can move “from the darkness into the light.”
"They started calling us computers. People began vanishing. And the cleaning began," says the voiceover at the start of the movie. "You were dirty if you looked different. You were dirty if you refused to live the way they dictated. You were dirty if you showed any form of opposition. At all. And if you were dirty... it was only a matter of time."
This is Trump-resistance Monáe, a 32 year old queer black woman who confessed she “felt scared” on election night in 2016.
"I felt like if I wake up tomorrow, are people going to feel they have the right to just, like, kill me now?" she told Rolling Stone Magazine.
Monáe explained the intention behind the movie to Billboard Magazine. "Overall, I wanted to reflect what’s happening in the streets right now, and what might happen tomorrow if we don't band together and fight for love."
Having spent years evading questions about her sexuality, Monáe came out to Rolling Stone Magazine in April.
"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.
Monáe explained that she previously 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."
Monáe told Rolling Stone that she spent time in therapy dealing with her belief that she was infected with a “computer virus” that needed to be cleaned and overcoming her fear of being judged.
Having been raised in a deeply religious Baptist family, "A lot of this album is a reaction to the sting of what it means to hear people in my family say, ‘All gay people are going to hell.' "
Now that Monáe has gained the courage and strength to burst out of the closet in a pair of pynk vagina pants, she wants to help young people struggling to feel accepted in today’s hostile political climate.
“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,” she told Rolling Stone. “This album is for you. Be proud.”
Watch the trailer for Dirty Computer below or click here to watch the full video on YouTube.