Lil Nas X condemns music industry for ‘sanitising’ treatment of LGBT+ artists

Lil Nas X attends the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards

Lil Nas X has fired a warning shot to the music industry for the restrictions it places on LGBT+ musicians during an interview with CBS on Sunday (2 January).

“It’s always been, ‘OK, if you’re gay, this needs to be sanitised. Let’s not include anything sexual,’” he said.

“It’s like, ‘Be gay without being gay. We don’t wanna know what happens behind closed doors, or we don’t want you to express that.’”

However, the musician also admitted that he’s “definitely more out there” than other openly-gay artists in the industry.

Lil Nas X, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, is no stranger to stirring controversy with his work. Previously, he has riled up conservatives by releasing limited-edition Nike ‘Satan shoes’ with New York art collective MSCHF. Each shoe contained a drop of human blood, coming complete with a pentagram and inverted cross tag.

Among the many critical of the footwear release was right-wing political pundit, Candace Owens. She hit out at Lil Nas X for “promoting Satan shoes to wear on our feet”, adding: “But we’re convinced it’s white supremacy that’s keeping Black America behind. How stupid can we be?”

Lil Nas X remained unperturbed, clapping back with a quote tweet: “You know you did something right when she talks about it.”

The release came after he gave Satan a lap-dance in the music video for his hit song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”.

Despite the hitmaker’s witty, light-hearted retorts to critics, he has also previously spoken out about his intent in making the music video. In fact, the backlash was exactly what he had hoped for.

“I feel like we’ve come to a time in music where everything is nice and nothing is really cutting edge or starting conversations any more,” he told TIME . “I want to be part of a conversation that actually applies to my situation and so many people that I know.”

His use of religious imagery, specifically, was intended to address the repression faced by LGBT+ youth, especially in Christian spaces.

“I grew up in a pretty religious kind of home – and for me, it was fear-based very much,” he explained.

“Even as a little child, I was really scared of every single mistake I may or may not have made. I want kids growing up feeling these feelings, knowing they’re a part of the LGBTQ community, to feel like they’re OK and they don’t have to hate themselves.”

The rapper also addressed his coming out journey in the interview with CBS. He made the decision to come out following the gargantuan success of his song “Old Town Road”. According to Lil Nas X, he felt like it was the “most authentic” time to come out.

“It’s like, I’m not doing it for attention,” he said. “I’m already like the number one artist in the world right now.”

In the past, he has spoken about his position in the industry as an openly gay Black man since coming out. Speaking to XXL, he said that he felt it was his duty to do so.

“I don’t think I would have ever come out,” he said. “I honestly felt like it was kind of my duty. Especially if I wanted to move forward. And [with] what I was doing, because authenticity is very real, and I feel like people can see right through that. And that’s a part of me.”

He also noted his journey in coming out, from being hesitant about involving sexuality in his work to whole-heartedly embracing it in its entirety.

“I used to ‘like’ comments where people were like, ‘Oh, I like him, because he’s not all in your face about it,'” he recalled. “And then I kind of realised what that was. It’s kind of like when people say, ‘Oh, I have a Black friend’, and that [sits on] everything that has to do with their Black history and culture… I’m kind of like, I’m not that person, you know?”