Since dropping “Old Town Road” and blowing up, Lil Nas X has graced our presence with the kind of proud and unapologetic queerness that made him instantly iconic.
The video for “Montero” featured the rapper sliding down a pole all the way to hell and performing a lap dance for Satan. While fans loved it, conservatives who were up in arms about the religious iconography in the video called it “evil.” It may also have led to an incident that forced Lil Nas X to hire security.
In an interview with Variety, the rapper shared that he’s felt unsafe a lot of times. “Especially after [‘Montero’]. There was literally someone who chased my car a few days after that video came out, yelling, ‘Fuck you!’ or something. And that’s when I actually started getting security,” he revealed. While he’s completely sure it was the video that led to the incident, he felt it couldn't be a coincidence.
The artist’s music and sex-positive gay persona have also led to several homophobic comments hurled at him in the hip-hop community, such as those from Boosie Badazz and DaBaby. Lil Nas X is refusing to engage with them for safety reasons. “The honest truth is, I don’t want to speak on a lot of the homophobia within rap because I feel like this is a very dangerous playing field. It’s more for my own safety rather than anything else,” he explained.
One thing his safety concerns won't stop him from doing, however, is continuing to lean into his queerness in his art. He followed the controversial “Montero” with the video for “Industry Baby,” which featured the performer naked (and pixelated) in a prison shower dancing along with inmates.
Lil Nas X says that the pandemic helped him to be more authentic and made him stop trying to please everyone else. He's no longer interested in being seen as “the cool gay person” or the “acceptable gay person,” he said. “I used to see things like that as a compliment, but it’s not. It just means you’re a people pleaser, and they never become legends. I wanted to be even more authentic in my music and let people into my life. I’m much more confident now — in my music, myself, my sexuality, the things that I believe that I stand for.”