Janelle, Monae, Flyna Boss, genderless, spirit of soul, recipient, non binary,

Janelle Monáe First Recipient Of Genderless Spirit Of Soul Award

Singer/actress Janelle Monáe inspired the Soul Train Awards to go genderless for the Spirit of Soul Award.

Janelle Monáe inspired the Soul Train Awards to go genderless for the Spirit of Soul Award.

The 36th Annual Soul Train Awards took place Sunday, Nov. 26. Monáe became the first recipient of the Spirit of Soul Award, which since 2015 has been known as the Lady of Soul Award, per KSMB.

But Soul Train decided “to honor the diversity and inclusivity of this year’s recipient,” BET announced. Monáe accepted the award after performing two separate sets, one to her Age of Pleasure single “Float” and a more upbeat performance to her song “Champagne Sh*t.”

The rap duo Flyana Boss presented the award to Monáe, who gave an impassioned speech that touched on her musical influences, systemic justice, and being recognized by the Soul Train Awards.

“It’s nothing like being recognized by your own—by your own family—yall are family to me,” she said. “Thank you so much, BET. Thank you so much, Soul Train. Thank you for keeping the soul alive. So many people have reinvented that word and I’m just so honored to have something like this for us that continues to evolve and showcase so many different forms of what soul can be.”

Noting a line from Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U,” Monáe celebrated her nonbinary identity.

“The spirit of Prince, whose spirit taught me ‘I’m not a woman. I’m not a man. I am something that you’ll never understand.’”

“As we continue as a people to fight against the systemic injustices and abuses of power that have gone unchallenged for way to long yall-I ask us all to please in the spirit of love, let the spirit of kindness use you, let the spirit of empathy use you, let the spirit of peace be your guide, always and forever,” Monáe concluded. “May our spirits guide us toward creating a safe and equitable place for our people. May we all experience joy, the spirit of true joy. Let the spirit use you, baby!”

Monáe came out as nonbinary during an appearance on Red Table Talk in April 2022. “And if I am from God, I am everything. But I will always, always stand with women. I will always stand with Black women. But I just see everything that I am, beyond the binary.”

Later that year, she told the Los Angeles Times that her “pronouns are free-ass motherf***er – and they/them, her/she.” She had previously come out as pansexual in 2018.

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