Arts & Culture

Lil Nas X Blazes a Trail into Territory Where Coming Out is ‘Not Really Accepted’

By Brian Oaster

It was the day of New York’s Pride celebration, and the final day of Pride Month. ‘Old Town Road’ was at the top of the charts, when the singer, Lil Nas X, pulled a fast one on the country and hip hop communities. He came out as gay.

The 20 year old rapper says he thought he “made it obvious” in the lyrics to ‘C7osure’, his song about acceptance and moving forward. “Some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone fwm no more. But before this month ends I want y’all to listen closely to c7osure,” he said in a tweet.

The album artwork shows a cityscape lit up with rainbow lights. “I want and I need / To let go / Use my time to be free,” it says. “Ain’t no more actin’, man that forecast say I should just let me grow”. The singer later confirmed that he’s gay. But also not not straight?

Lil Nas X Meets Backlash With Humor

Fans and followers took to the comments section with outpourings of support, and sometimes abuse. Many even leaped to sexualize the lyrics of ‘Old Town Road’, something they didn’t seem to be concerned with before the singer came out. But Lil Nas X clarified that everybody should just calm down because “old town road is literally about horses.”

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this week, the singer said he’s already facing backlash, but weathering it with a sense of humor. “I used to be that person being negative,” he says of the internet-based responses. “I’m not angry or anything, cause I understand, you know, how they just want that reaction. But I’m just going to joke back with them.”

True to his word, he joked in a tweet “just got news that i’m gay and i will no longer be streaming my music.”

Blazing a Trail Where Coming Out is ‘Not Really Accepted’

But on a more serious note, Lil Nas X says he considered going his whole life without coming out to the public. “It was something I was considering just never doing ever, just taking to the grave or something,” he said on BBC, “but I don’t want to live my entire life not doing what I want to do.”

He noted the importance of being a role model and paving the way for others. “I’m also opening doors for more people.” He says that he hopes the public reaction will be his audience feeling more comfortable, “especially within the country and hip hop community,” where he notes that coming out as LGBTQ is “not really accepted.”

He also later clarified—or blurred—his identity by tweeting “just cuz i’m gay don’t mean i’m not straight”.

‘Old Town Road’ Keeps Its Hold on the Charts, Hits Diamond

Earlier in the month, the country / hip hop crossover ‘Old Town Road’ had been booted from the US country charts because it “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music”. But when Billy Ray Cyrus joined Lil Nas X for a new version of the song, it hit the country music charts again.

The song is now in its 14th week at the top of the charts, and went platinum in France while Lil Nas X was touring in France. It’s the first song to hit diamond status while still number one in the charts since Elton John’s 1997 single ‘Candle in the Wind’ became the first diamond song ever.

Diamond songs have moved at least 10 million units, sales and streaming included. Only 20 songs in recording history have achieved this level.

Brian Oaster

Brian is a Choctaw writer in the Pacific Northwest.