In just two short years in the spotlight, Lil Nas X has redefined what it means to be truly authentic to one’s self in the public eye. The Grammy-winning artist has also been an unstoppable force in the hip-hop industry as he challenges many of the genre’s longtime standards.
Lil Nas X came out publicly in 2019
As a Gen-Z rapper, Lil Nas X was a child of the Internet. Before he was famous, he ran a stan Twitter account and was an avid fan of Nicki Minaj.
He burst onto the scene in 2019 with his smash single “Old Town Road.” The collab with Billy Ray Cyrus set a new record for most weeks spent at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and sold over 15 million copies in the US. He acknowledged his sexuality publicly for the first time in June 2019.
In the time since then, Lil Nas has come into his own and been more outwardly proud of who he is. His 2021 debut album Montero gave fans a look at many parts of his journey, including some of his darkest moments.
Lil Nas X feels responsible for the LGBTQ+ community
While there have been out gay rappers in the past, none have had the same level of success as Lil Nas has had. Being in such a position can put enormous pressure on an artist.
In a 2021 interview with Apple Music, he opened up about what it means to represent the LGBTQ+ community in such a big way. He acknowledged that he feels “responsibility” to do right by them, but noted a double standard when it came to queer artists.
“It’s certain things that I see in the world that fuel me to go harder or put even more effort or to make sure I’m getting across,” he said honestly. “I’ve said this before in the past: when people come out as gay or whatnot, it becomes like, ‘OK, let’s sanitize the hell out of this. Let’s make sure it’s appropriate and super safe.’ And it’s [to the point] where they don’t do anything that’s considered ‘too far’ — even the things that we see other artists doing.”
“And even to defend ourselves, we have to say, ‘Oh, well, you straight people have done it first,’” he continued. “I feel like we still haven’t reached a place where I can do something right now that no straight person has done that’s considered ‘too far.’ Then it’s really too far because no straight person has done it.”
Lil Nas X means a lot for Black LGBTQ+ people in particular
More specifically, Lil Nas X has been a shining beacon of hope for Black LGBTQ+ people in particular. In an interview for Amazon Music, RuPaul’s Drag Race star Monique Heart sang his praises. “Queer people, we love you, the community [loves you] for sure,” she said, “but as another Black queer individual, we are riding for you so hard, so it means so much to see you be so free.”
Award-winning actor Billy Porter similarly praised Lil Nas X and the “Black boy joy” that he exudes. Porter even had a cameo in the music video for Lil Nas’ hit single “That’s What I Want.”
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