Victoria Monét Knows She Has the Privilege to Go Where Whitney Houston Couldn’t

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Bisexual singer-songwriter Victoria Monét landed a whopping seven Grammy nominations back in November — topped only by SZA this year. Heading into the awards ceremony this weekend, she sat down with Variety for an interview about her successes as well as her struggles as not only an independent artist doing it for herself but also a queer Black woman in the R&B space. She opened up about coming out as bisexual back in 2018, sharing she felt pressured to stay in the closet leading up to that.

“I thought that conforming would make me go further,” she tells Variety. “Being picturesque, straight… It almost felt like you didn’t want to add any more weights to your ankles trying to win a race. It’s like, you’re already a woman, you’re already Black — you’d better pick a struggle.”

And Monét furthers the conversation on her own queerness and decision to come out by bringing in important history. In the Variety interview, she mentions the Whitney Houston documentary from last year that touches on the legendary singer’s bisexuality and the outside forces that kept her closeted. “I’m so sad she wasn’t able to do whatever that she wanted, and the world would [have] been fine,” she tells Variety, going on to say: “Just do and love who you love. And so if I have the ability to talk about it without so much backlash… I know there are special people who hate it. But I feel like since I have the privilege to do so, I should and just be honest. So music has been a playground for sexuality. And some things I don’t even express in words will just come out in music because it’s on my spirit and soul to do so.”

Monét knows she has a chance to do something Whitney was never able to do, to be her full self in her music and in her personal life and share that with the world. Like she says, yes, there will always be haters. But by being vocally bisexual in the space of R&B, she is simultaneously inviting future generations of queer artists in as well as honoring the past by living a life denied to an icon like Whitney Houston. She doesn’t have to separate and isolate these parts of herself in the way Whitney had to. She can take home seven Grammy nominations and also write a whole ass erotic song about fellow sapphic R&B singer-songwriter (and her ex) Kehlani and have her super queer, super sexy music celebrated on a massive stage in a way that doesn’t downplay that explicitly queer lyricism and musicality (because lbr, we’re not talking subtext with these lyrics!).

Monét is far from shy about talking about her sexuality. But not only is she loud and proud — she’s also wholly aware it’s a privilege and an honor to be able to live out when someone like Whitney could not. And with her seven Grammy nominations and other accolades, it’s a joyous gay wonder she also finds time to party with her fellow power bisexuals in the club. A multihyphenate indeed!

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 764 articles for us.

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