Gay Rapper Lil Nas X: I Planned to Die in the Closet

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday April 10, 2020

Despite decades of hard-won progress, LGBTQ people often have a hard time coming out... and it's an open question as to how many never do. In a new interview, superstar rapper Lil Nas X told British newspaper The Guardian that his original plan for his life was to be one of those people who lives their entire life in the closet.

"The honest truth is, I planned to die with the secret," the rapper told the journalist from The Guardian, before going on to say: "But that changed when I became Lil Nas X."

In other words, his success helped rescue him from a life spend suffering with inauthenticity and shame.

Now 21, Montero Lamar Hill - the name he was born with - spent years on social media, creating comedy pieces for Vine and delivering witticisms on Twitter. When he started writing rap songs, the Guardian noted, he adopted a macho persona. But then he took the music scene by storm with a country-infused rap, "Old Town Road," that threw open the doors to widespread fame. The song lodged itself at the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-smashing 19 weeks - propelled in large part by its popularity on yet another social media platform, TikTok. A slew of half a dozen Grammy nominations followed, including one for his debut album. (He and featured artist Billy Ray Cyrus won for "Old Town Road" in the category of "Best pop duo/group performance.")

That was when Nas decided to kick open another door: That of the closet. He was still at Number One when he made history by coming out as gay even during his hit song's blue-hot run. His success, he told The Guardian, was a key element in his finding the confidence to emerge as his authentic self.

Famously, Nas came out at the end of Pride month last summer, first with a post that referenced a song on his own hit debut album and then with a follow-up that affirmed fans' interpretation that he was saying he was gay.

His life plan of secrecy and suffocation, he said, "changed when I became Lil Nas X."

For one thing, he went on to disclose, "I'm not depending on anybody. There's no one who's going to kick me out of the house - nobody to start treating me shitty."

Asked if he talked about his now-public status as a gay man with his family, the rapper said that he and his relatives are "quiet on it. Nobody's like, 'Oh, you go ta boyfriend?'

"I don't want it to be something we never talk about," the rapper went on to say. "Because what about the kids in my family? I would like it to be a healthy medium between, 'Who are you fucking?' and just not saying anything."

But why had he hesitated to come out in the first place?

The Guardian put it this way:

He knew people who had come out at high school, and saw the pain, bullying and homophobia they experienced. He told himself he wasn't cut out for it.

Now, of course, it's plain that Lil Nas X is cut out to be exactly who he is. Just like everyone else.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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