We’re celebrating and highlighting the stars who reside all across the LGBQIA+ spectrum this Pride Month. While gay, lesbian, and trans celebrities are often spotlighted by various entities during this time, those who fall outside of strict gender boxes are often overlooked, disregarded, or simply unrecognized.
In recent years, great strides have been made in the recognition and respect of nonbinary individuals. Nonbinary identity, also often referred to as genderqueer or gender-nonconforming, means that the individual does not view themselves as exclusively male or female. Some people feel that they embody neither, while others feel that they embody both.
According to NBC, a recent survey found that about 5% of America’s young adult population (ages 18 – 30), now identify as a gender that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth – either transgender or nonbinary. 1.6% of the overall population (including those outside of the 18-30 age group) falls under this umbrella.
With the recognition of the term nonbinary and the concept of gender nonconformity rising in the public consciousness in recent years, some of our favorite stars of the big and small screen and the music industry have come forward to reveal that they too fall on this only recently accepted end of the spectrum.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 06: (L-R) Jidenna, Janelle Monae, and Kehlani attend as Harper’s BAZAAR celebrates “ICONS By Carine Roitfeld” at The Plaza Hotel presented by Cartier – Inside on September 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Harper’s BAZAAR )
Whether they have openly and definitively identified as nonbinary, or they buck the idea of gender identity altogether, these artists are redefining societal norms simply by unapologetically being themselves.
Take a look at the stars living life outside of gender confines below.
“I live outside of the binary. I feel my masculinity, my femininity, and everything in between,” the singer, songwriter, and actor told ESSENCE in a September 2021 interview, before formally confirming their nonbinary identity on an April 2022 episode of Red Table Talk. “A lot of who I am is centered around not letting anyone define me.” Monáe has gone on record saying that they go by both they/them and she/her pronouns, but will also happily answer to “free-ass motherf****r.”
2021 was a big year for Kehlani in affirming her LGBTQIA+ identity. Early in the year, they revealed that they are a lesbian. But in a December 2021 interview with Byrdie Magazine, the Blue Water Road singer revealed that they don’t occupy a strict space in traditionally female identity. While they are fine using she/her pronouns, say they feel really “seen” when others refer to them by they/them pronouns. “Something feels really affirming when people say ‘they,'” Kehlani shared.
The POSE star is both trans femme and nonbinary identifying. Though they find she/her pronouns to be acceptable in some situations, they famously started a “gender jar” at their management agency CAA, charging reps at the company for each time they were misgendered. “I thought it would be a great way to hold people accountable,” they told The Hollywood Reporter in 2019. “The more you misgender people, the more you have to spend.” The money was slated to be donated to organizations that benefit Black trans and gender-nonconforming people.
For Syd, gender roles and expression are a total afterthought. Notably not a conformist to traditional “female” gender expression, she went on record early in her career noting that she did not necessarily like being classified as a lesbian. “If you think I’m a young boy singing these songs, dope. Run with that,” she told the New York Times in 2016.
Instead of making stipulations and distinctions on labels, this masculine-presenting NY-based rapper prefers to buck them altogether. While speaking in a 2019Hollywood Unlocked Uncensored interview, the rapper expressed a disinterest in being placed into a box either with her gender or her sexuality. “As a kid, I always wanted to do things differently than what society teaches us – I still don’t want to put a label on it like girl/boy, because we don’t know if a girl is supposed to be this or a boy is supposed to be that. Like, who says this?” Despite only having an interest in dating women, the rapper won’t even define herself as a lesbian. “I’m just Young M.A.” she stressed.
The Queen of Bounce is unapologetically himself, (or herself, depending on the day). Freedia uses she/her and he/him pronouns interchangeably and confidently bends gender in whatever direction she pleases. As she wrote in The Root in 2020, I’m gender non-conforming, fluid, nonbinary. If I had known the “queen” in Queen Diva would cause so much confusion, I might have called myself the king!”
The actor opened up about their gender identity on Tumblr back in 2016, then only 17 years old. While speaking with People in 2017, they made it known that they see little use for gender identity as it is expressed in modern society. “I don’t necessarily always prescribe to female pronouns just because I don’t think that pronouns are necessarily very meaningful.”
The New York-bred hip-hop phenom made waves with her breakout single “Tomboy” in 2017 and a more masculine-presenting style. But Princess Nokia has swung her style pendulum toward the sultry and traditionally feminine in recent years. “I’m a gender non-conforming androgynous person,” she told Playboy in 2019. “Every day I feel different. Every day it’s either masc or femme or in between.”
The Drag Race star revealed their nonbinary identity in THEM magazine in 2019, stating that performing in drag helped them discover who they truly are. “It was through drag that I really started to understand that I have feelings that don’t necessarily lean toward what is considered stereotypically male, but I also have feelings that are very much what some would consider to be masculine.”
The rapper, singer, and painter explained that she considers herself agender, identifying with neither male nor female identity. “I don’t allow gender to guide or manipulate anything that I am interested in,” she told CBS Philadelphia in 2015. But she’s not one to get hung up on pronouns. “I don’t care what people call me. If they wanted to use the word ‘he’ the entire article I would be ok with that.”