Janelle Monáe’s “Lipstick Lover” Music Video Has Fully Melted Our Brains

I am here today because some extremely gay and evocative Janelle Monáe just dropped (a music video for her new single “Lipstick Lover,” from their just announced new album The Age of Pleasure which comes out June 9th).

I’m supposed to write about it, which is unfortunate because also I think watching it broke my brain and I don’t… remember how to words.

In a still from Janelle Monae's Lipstick Lover music video, it reads: Janelle Monáe Presents... across the back of a bathing suit.

"Lipstick" written across the back of a bathing suit

"Lover" written across the back of a bathing suit

In a still from Janelle Monae's Lipstick Lover music video, two black women kiss underwater.

I… I just… I…

I’m not to be trusted with this music video, this queer Black feminist sex positive pool party has shattered everything inside me. But even if all the good sense that the Lorde (word to Audre) gave me has left my body, I knew I wanted to celebrate this momentous occasion with family. So I immediately popped into the Autostraddle QTPOC slack and promptly @‘ed everyone I knew.

Let’s check in on the group chat and on how the gays are doing, shall we?

In a gif from Janelle Monae's Lipstick Lover music video, toys fall around them in bed.

Carmen: my thoughts and feelings are… what
followed by… w h a t

Nic: My thoughts are: how do I get invited to that party
Also: huh?
And: i am so gay
Honorable mention: WHAT

A collage of six images from the Lipstick Lover music video.

From Nic: “Screenshotted the video and opened the layout app SO FAST”

shea: Holy shit
My my my, how far we have come from them little black/white fits.

Carmen: My brain has fully broken.

shea: Also, the elder smoking a cigar is me in 30 years.

Dani: I’m hyperventilating.
This is how I want pride to be this year.

Carmen: My thing is… ok my thing is maybe the ass grab?
but also the cigar smoke?
like.. my thing is… many things

Nic: Is it bad that I want to gatekeep this album so badly?

Shelli: I’m just saying we should do a tag yourself.

Dani: I love this era of Janelle being hot and thotty
This is me:

In a still from Janelle Monae's Lipstick Lover music video, Monáe squeezes the butt of a dancer.

shea: Do y’all think Janelle was like “what will make them hot?” and then said “cool, cool. let’s do that!” to every suggestion?

Dani: YES

Shelli: This is me at a pool party to a T.

Janelle Monáe at a pool party in their music video.

Wearing a beret in my own world.

Shelli: Me as a queer elder supporting the girls.

In a still from Janelle Monae's Lipstick Lover music video, they are between the legs of an older Black queer elder and smoking a cigarette

Carmen: omg
omg shelliiiiii

Nic: Unrelated but the AESTHETIC of this photo 👩‍🍳💋

Shelli: Me in so many ways

Janelle Monáe sings to a high heel, about to lick it.


Carmen: Wait I was ALSO going to be licking the heel!
We can’t all be licking the heel.


Shelli: I shan’t be the licker but the wearer

Carmen: 👆🏾

Shelli: Also, I could have used more fat babes in the pool party yes and I don’t care if that upsets people. But that was literally my only qualm.

Dani: Yes, totally.

Carmen: No, that’s facts though.

Carmen: How am I just seeing this? They are so unserious!

For the next 15 years!!!

Sai: I’m sorry, I’m late… I think I stopped breathing for a few minutes.

ooooh say less, it’s up.

Nic: 🔥🔥🔥
I remember when Dirty Computer came out and I thought THAT was going to be peak Janelle for me, but wow I am so thrilled to have been wrong.

Shelli: 2nd Janelle 6:9 — The Age of Pleasure.

Carmen: I am ready to read from this scripture.

Shelli: 69!!



Dani: The theme of pride is PLEASURE I’m so excited.

Dani: How do I already know the lyrics?
Shit is on REPEAT

shea: Me, all summer:

Janelle Monáe reads a book off the back of someone's butt.

Nic: Oh damn shea, that’s me too.

shea: What I’d like to be doing:

A black queer elder smoking a cigar
Honestly, they need to sell the print of this shot.
Like I need this on my wall.

Carmen: Immediately.

Dani: I need the pleasure shirt.

Sai: Me when i realize this is the last slice of pizza:

In a still from Janelle Monae's Lipstick Lover music video, someone eats a piece of pizza while in a pool.

A. Tony: A thank you to Janelle Monáe, I hope the sapphic vibes of the universe relay this message to you.

Christina: I clicked play and meant to type by my brain literally shut down so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Natalie: Understandable.

Janelle Monáe and their dancers, dancing in short shorts and crop tops.

Let’s recap. First, drink your water because hydration is key. Second, it’s been five years since Janelle Monáe gifted us with an album to soundtrack our queer lives, and that’s about to change. You can listen to Janelle Monáe’s “Lipstick Lover” wherever you do your music, and you can expect us to cover the countdown to June 9th’s Age of Pleasure with a hyperfocused, obsessive level of detail that only the gays do best.

Speaking of, let me use my one final brain cell to say this: Have you read adrienne marie brown’s Pleasure Activism? Because that feels like a thing you could do.

And one last thing — if you’re a Black queer person reading this, I love you and all of this is for you. I hope the sun kisses your melanin today.

The word pleasure across a wet t-shirt as Janelle Monáe gets out of a pool.

Two Black queer people holding each other while looking at the camera.

A black queer person eating cherries.

An orange slice with waxy red lips, and a black person's finger with a yellow acrylic fingernail (to match the orange) going inside the wax lip.

An orange slice with waxy red lips, and a peeled banana going into those lips. Overlayed over the image are the words "the age of pleasure"

Janelle Monáe in a poker furry creature onsie, brushing their teeth.


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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 711 articles for us.

The Speakeasy

The QTPOC Speakeasy is a collective of Autostraddle's writers of color.

has written 22 articles for us.


  1. Wow. Brain melted. Or stunned. Short circuited and hopefully coming back online soon. Definitely filing imagery away for later.

    I just did not know a video – or a party – like this was possible. I am definitely not cool enough for that party. Or am I?
    Viva Janelle!

  2. Let’s hope that, a decade or so from now, the pixelation of women’s chests in this video (or this commonly-seen version of it, if there’s an uncensored version somewhere) feels like an odd historical artifact. I mean, for some people, bra-free wet T-shirts are much more attention-grabbing and/or a turn-on than uncensored bare breasts would be, and those aren’t pixelated here… and also generally aren’t pixelated, blurred, or censored anymore where they occur outside of R-rated (or equivalent) material.

    If nothing else, the whole video is soft-R by current standards in most places, and 15+/16+ in some places where that ratings distinction is common, but the slight censorship doesn’t meaningfully change that either way. Even heavier censorship would never remotely make this PG-12/13. I suspect it’s mostly because highly sexualized commercial works need to meet superficial and somewhat arbitrary standards to not count as “porn” from an international economic and/or lowest-common-denominator community standards perspective(s).

    • I’ve also noticed that Our Cishetero Overlords censor/age-limit so many videos of just…female youtubers kissing, fully clothed and more romantic than erotic. Like, a similar hetero video is Totally Fine for the Children but make it gay and Oh No! 18+!

  3. Can I just comment in emojis? Because for the last 24 hours I’ve been like…

  4. Hi I just want to say that I have not-on-purpose, but just by accident not really been too active on AS lately (and by lately I mean the last like… 5 years). BUT this video put me in my queer feels and queer community feels so deep and so big that I had to type in that beloved URL and come here just to read y’all’s words also geeking out over it, as I knew you would be. Thank you Carmen, thank you AS group chat. Will have this whole fucking album on constant repeat, I already know. <3

  5. Hi! I’m the queer ass production designer responsible for this video and I’m here to let you know (belatedly) that I dropped 25% of my budget in sex toys.

    Yes, there is an uncensored version – and it was released first.

    Yes, the chocolate shoe was gluten free.

    Thank you for enjoying this fruit filled renaissance — it was a labor of love!

    Carry on ~

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