Lil Nas X’s Montero is a shameless celebration of gay sexuality

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Having an openly gay model changes lives: giving us someone to look up to, showing a version of ourselves who is beautiful because of their weirdness, not in spite of themselves (Photo: Rex / Twitter @LilNasX)

Lil Nas X never quite adapted. His viral track Old Town Road, the longest number one song in chart history, sparked controversy for its hybrid straddling the genres of country, hip-hop and trap.

Neither genre claimed it, with Lil Nas receiving a lukewarm reception from country and trap radio stations. Her biggest hit to date ended up being an oddity – listened to all over the world, but nowhere to call home.

In a typical move, he embraced the controversy by releasing a remix of the song starring country artist Billy Ray Cyrus, giving both genres an ironic and rebellious look. His signature challenge seemed to challenge the entertainment world: what now?

It was against this backdrop, in month three of the Old Town Road Number One Race, that Lil Nas X became gay at the end of Pride Month in June 2019.

Announcing his sexuality casually via Twitter belied its historical character, which was important to him: he noted that “if you do this while you’re at the top […] it shows that it doesn’t really matter, I guess ”.

While it’s true that sexuality shouldn’t have any bearing on success, the release of Lil Nas certainly meant countless fans – me included. Having an openly gay role model changes lives: giving us someone to look up to, showing a version of ourselves that is beautiful because of her weirdness, not in spite of herself.

Lil Nas joins a relatively short list of openly queer black musicians that includes Tyler, The Creator, Kevin Abstract, and Frank Ocean. The importance of representing these doubly marginalized communities cannot be understated – for many queer blacks, they can often feel that there is not just a glass ceiling limiting their aspirations, but walls preventing them. to integrate into their communities.

As he has done throughout his career, Lil Nas leads by example, embracing his otherness. Rather than backing off for fear of being uncomfortable or polarizing opinions, he leans in – and he’s clearly having fun doing it.

Lil Nas X Industry Baby

It’s refreshing for queer sex drive to be celebrated so openly (Photo: Lil Nas X)

Her fashions push the boundaries – hanging out on the red carpets in the camp, the bizarre looks. His clips grab sites of oppression – scriptures, prisons, high schools, and sports games – and inject them with playful release: where else would you see someone give the devil a lap dance, or twerking en masse in the showers of the prison ? Those who troll him are struck with a confident spirit that has become one of his hallmarks.

Lil Nas constantly incorporates his responses to the world around him in his work, from trolls and memes to stereotypes and self-reflection. This is evident in his latest album, Montero, which freely explores his sexuality through an eclectic mix of genres.

It’s refreshing for queer sex drive to be celebrated so openly, and I found myself feeling moved upon hearing the opening lines of This is what I want: “Need a boy who can hug me all the time.” the night “. Even now, it’s still revolutionary to hear a man sing for or about another man. It’s intensely moving to feel like this is represented, and it highlights how little we hear it in mainstream music.

In every performance, Lil Nas X challenges the outdated secrecy surrounding gay sexuality. It puts men first, subjecting them to the same sexualizing masculine gaze that women have been for decades. He kisses them and dances suggestively with them, daring people to challenge him for making homosexuality sexy.

And challenge him, they do – but he’s ready for them, arguing that, “you’re all silent as hell when niggas devote their whole catalog of music to rap about having sex with several women, but when I do something sexual from a distance I am “sexually irresponsible”.

He strips such a critique of his work of its thinly veiled homophobia and denounces society’s double standards, showing that we don’t need to come to terms with things just because that’s the way they always have been. He doesn’t stop at questioning the assumptions of straight people; also fight against toxic constructions of masculinity in the queer community.

During an Instagram question-and-answer session in April, in response to fans questioning his sexual preferences – implying that the power belongs to the sex-dominant part – he said that the “s ** t high and bottom ‘of the gay community have become’ a huge form of misogyny ‘. He’s right: there is an inherent misogyny in the way members of the LGBT + community characterize themselves and look down on others because of their sexual preferences.

Not afraid of being the butt of a joke, Lil Nas then declared himself a “powerhouse” and made it a running joke in the “Industry Baby” video. Not only does this astute marketing draw fans to the worlds he builds, it also flexes his ability to make serious points with a subversive nod to his audience.

His fearless confidence and good humor in dismantling restrictive behaviors is revolutionary – and I hope this will continue to pave the way for a more open dialogue about the possibilities of masculinity rather than its limits.

Montero feels like the start of a revolution. His impetuous confidence and raw sensitivity sparked in me a new sense of optimism – perhaps even hope; for queer youth, but for us too.

Lil Nas X is not only comfortable resting outside the restrictions of expectations, but is confident of pushing them down. Just as his music spans multiple genres, he embraces all elements of himself and presents to the world a beautifully articulated version of self-conscious liberation.

His daring refusal to comply or disinfect is a valuable lesson in being shameless oneself – a lesson we should all listen to.

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