The Trevor Project on Tuesday announced Janelle Monáe as the recipient of its 2022 Suicide Prevention Advocate of the Year Award, which recognizes influential public figures for their unwavering commitment to LGBTQ mental health awareness.
The second annual award marks September’s National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Monáe joins Lil Nas X, who was the inaugural recipient of the award in 2021, in receiving the honor.
The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, actor, and author has been a longtime champion for the LGBTQ community and conversations around mental health. In a recent interview with CNN, Monáe explained, “my natural instinct has always been to stand up to bullies, and to protect the ones who are trying to just live and love in peace and in their authentic selves.” Over the years, the multi-hyphenate artist has proudly and openly shared their personal journey around their sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2018, Monáe came out as pansexual in a Rolling Stone cover story, and announced they identify as nonbinary on an episode of Red Table Talk this past April, stating: “I just don’t see myself as a woman, solely. I feel all of my energy.”
In accepting the award, Monáe said: “Growing up queer and Black in a religious household, I faced a lot of challenges trying to understand my identity and where I fit in as someone who always felt beyond the binary. We, as LGBTQ folks, as people of color, are a powerful and unstoppable community. I want every young queer person out there to know that I see you, you are beautiful in all of your forms, and you are never, ever alone in this world.”
According to The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which captured the experiences of nearly 34,000 LGBTQ youth across the U.S., 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, and nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide. The findings also revealed that LGBTQ youth of color reported higher rates of attempting suicide in the past year than their white peers, and 60% of LGBTQ youth who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it.
Monáe has been outspoken about addressing negative mental health outcomes and ending suicide among LGBTQ young people. In 2019, Monáe took to Twitter to spark discourse around LGBTQ mental health, stating: “I wanna have a real discussion around bullies (kids and adults) who bully kids/people because of their sexuality. Bullying leads to kids & adults in the LGBTQIA [community] falling into depression & [dying by] suicide in many instances. What should the repercussions be for bullying?” They have also been candid about their own past struggles with depression and the importance of mental health accessibility and affordability. When speaking to The Grio in 2018, Monáe asserted, “I wish that our system here in America made mental health care more affordable, or quite frankly, free for every human being.” In normalizing these conversations, Monáe is helping to destigmatize mental health and create open dialogues around suicide prevention.
The Suicide Prevention Advocate of the Year Award adds to a long list of accolades for Monáe, who has been recognized for their work in the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight” and Oscar-nominated film “Hidden Figures.” Monáe will star in the upcoming “Knives Out” sequel “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” in December.
To learn more about The Trevor Project, visit TheTrevorProject.org.