celebrity

The downright homophobic conversation surrounding Lil Nas X right now.

Lil Nas X's new song is dedicated to his younger self; a young teenager, grappling with his sexuality and scared about what people would say.

"Dear 14-year-old Montero, I wrote a song with our name in it. It's about a guy I met last summer," he wrote in a letter shared on social media.

"I know we promised to never come out publicly, I know we promised never to be 'that' type of gay person, I know we promised to die with the secret, but this will open doors for many other Queer people to simply exist."

The musician, best known for his viral 2019 hit 'Old Town Road', went on to write that he was scared of the reaction the song and its video would garner.

"This is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say I'm pushing an agenda," he said. 

"But the truth is, I am. The agenda to make people stay the f*** out of other people's lives and stop dictating who they should be."

'Montero (Call Me By Your Name)' sees Lil Nas X, whose real name is Montero, sing about having a relationship with a closeted guy. In the music video, he plays various Biblical-inspired characters, including Adam and the snake in the Garden of Eden.

After being stoned to death, he dances down a pole to hell, where he meets Satan atop his throne which is surrounded by Greek words that mean: "They condemn what they do not understand".

He gives Satan a lap dance before killing him and then crowns himself with Satan's horns.

According to a press release accompanying the video, the final scene represents "dismantling the throne of judgement and punishment that has kept many of us from embracing our true selves out of fear".

Lil Nas X was correct with the letter to his younger self: people were mad. They did accuse him of pushing 'an agenda'. 

Think back to mid-2020, when Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion released 'WAP', and later that same year when Harry Styles wore a dress on the cover of Vogue. 'Montero' has garnered controversy like both of those combined, with added fury because Lil Nas X dares to be an openly gay Black man.

Conservative commentators and religious figures have strongly condemned the video, screaming 'think of the children'. 

Lil Nas X has since had an absolute field day on Twitter, sharing reactions, memes and trolling homophobic criticism he's received.

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Things ramped up when Lil Nas X announced custom 'Satan Nikes'. Snopes did some digging and found the shoes are legit, but they're the work of a company called MSCHF, which specialises in troll products.

All of the outrage played right into their hands.

He's fought with the governor of South Dakota, who has spent a lot of time tweeting about Lil Nas X, and major conservative figures like Candace Owen.

Right-wing paster Greg Locke went viral for preaching about the controversy. The most telling part of the rant is where Locke admitted he actually had no idea who Lil Nas X was, but called him a 'thug'.

Lil Nas X responded to say he would sample Locke's rant.

The problem for these conservative voices is that Lil Nas X knew this would happen, and he's armed with the greatest defence: He simply doesn't care.

While one side of the internet clutches its pearls, another side is celebrating. 

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Queer activists and commentators have pointed out what Lil Nas X's message means for the community.

"I don't think it's possible for me, a 41-year-old gay man, to overstate just how monumental it was to see a 21-year-old gay man express his sexuality on exactly the same terms - and at the same level of fame, success and media attention - his straight counterparts have enjoyed for decades," Adam B Vary wrote for Variety.

"Instead, historically, gay men who'd reached a similar career pinnacle at roughly the same age have either had to stay in the closet and sing about women — see: New Kids on the Block's Jonathan Knight, NSYNC's Lance Bass, Ricky Martin — or come out after establishing themselves and keep their sexuality in vaguely PG territory (if that). See: Elton John, George Michael, Michael Stipe, Mika and, again, Ricky Martin."

Vary wrote it was a new era for Queer artists, giving anyone who follows in Lil Nas X's footsteps permission to express themselves in a way not afforded to artists before him.

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Lil Nas X grew up surrounded by the church - his dad is a gospel singer - and the video is clearly a commentary on the negative experiences Queer people can have in environments which don't accept them.

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Despite what some may say, 'Montero' will not lead to the end of civilisation. 

But to those who need it most - who are struggling with their identity of feeling shunned by their community because of their identity - it may change everything.

The negative reaction has played right into Lil Nas X's marketing technique. 

We're all talking about it. The 'Montero' video has garnered nearly 30 million views in less than three days. 

If they looked a little closer, they'd see they're being played.

The devil's always in the details.

Feature image: UnderWonder Content.