Lil Nas X on powerful purpose of new documentary: ‘Black queers really control culture’

Lil Nas X's documentary premiered at Toronto International Film Festival.

Grammy-winning artist Lil Nas X has shared the beautiful inspiration behind his new documentary, Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero – and how Black queer youth need to know they’re helping “take the world to the next level”.

Lil Nas X, real name Montero Lamar Hill, has been a queer icon since he publicly came out as gay in 2019. Alongside his career in music, the 24-year-old rapper expertly trolls homophobes online, and has spoken up for gay rights and unashamedly incorporated celebrations of queer sexuality in his music, videos and live performances

The “Industry Baby” hitmaker’s feature-length documentary follows Li Nas X as he embarks on his world tour Long Live Montero at the end of 2022.

It touches on his viral sensation “Old Town Road” which flung him into international stardom overnight and the process behind his critically acclaimed debut album Montero, while offering a uniquely intimate portrait of his personal life, such as exploring how he helped his younger brother come to terms with his bisexuality.

In an interview with Variety, Nas explained that he “truly hopes” his documentary can have a positive impact on the representation of queer Black people.

“I know in my lifetime, while I’m here, I’m going to do my best to make the ceiling unreachable to where we can go as Black queer people,” he said.

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“And I mean unreachable as, like, it can go above and beyond.

“I feel like we live in a generation where Black queer people really control culture, and they’re helping really take the world to the next level.

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“And I think that’s going to have an effect on our youth watching us.”

Lil Nas X with documentary co-directors Zac Manuel and  Carlos Lopez Estrada.
Lil Nas X with documentary co-directors Zac Manuel and Carlos Lopez Estrada. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty)

The singer has long been vocal about taking inspiration from the LGBTQ+ artists who have come before him, not least trailblazing rock ‘n’ roll icon Little Richard.

According to co-director Zac Manuel, staying to true to himself and paying homage to the queer Black artists who paved the way are at the heart of the documentary, which premiered at the Toronto  International Film Festival on Saturday (9 September), despite delays caused by a bomb threat.

“I think what was really important was that Montero himself was so transparent in his identity and also his journey toward being the fullest version of his identity that he really wanted to be,” Manuel said.

“And I think sharing that journey with us and going on that journey with his family ended up really becoming the heart of the film. He is a really intelligent and thoughtful person, and he’s able to reflect on his place as an artist in the international pop music world.

“But he’s also able to put himself in perspective as a part of a continuum of other Black queer artists and performers who came before him.

“I think his reflections on those things became the spine and the heart of the film – and it became really important to the narrative, and also to how we understand him as more than just an artist, but understand him as a person.”

There is no UK release date yet for Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero Road.

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