REPRESENTATION: Lil Nas X and the Cultural Impact of a Gay, Black Icon
Summer 2019 brought Lil Nas X to everybody’s attention with the 12-time platinum record “Old Town Road,” which would go on to top the Billboard Hot 100 for 17 consecutive weeks- the longest any track had been #1. He broke music barriers by combining elements of two genres and creating what he called “country trap,” ultimately launching himself into fame. As Lil Nas X became a household name and with Old Town Road dominating radio stations, the rapper’s sexuality rarely came into question.
However, Lil Nas came out to his family in early 2019 but had yet to come out publicly until the last day of Pride Month. On June 30th, 2019, he tweeted, “Some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care…” and continued to acknowledge that some of his listeners might unfollow him before saying, “But before this month ends I want y’all to listen closely to c7osure” with the rainbow emoji added at the end. “C7osure,” the seventh track on Lil Nas’ debut EP, describes staying true to yourself and one’s identity, and once his fans started connecting the dots, the support and love he received was extremely positive.
As an avid twitter user, I followed Lil Nas X as soon as “Old Town Road” started picking up traction. He’s a hilarious person, and his tweets have always been something I’d go out of my way to read. I specifically remember the moment I saw his coming out tweet on my timeline; I felt extremely proud of him for coming out. The response on twitter was beautiful as many congratulated and supported him. I was especially proud of Lil Nas X because being black and gay is not something that many accept.
From my perspective especially, homophobia runs rampant throughout the black community. A lot is hyper-masculinized, and black men are made to fit a very stiff mold that has yet to show any signs of giving. Thousands of black men are forced to stay inside the closet out of fear. More specifically in the rap/Hip Hop genre, the community is sometimes toxic. It hurts to see in person and online because I feel as though we should allow people to be as they truly are. Sexuality shouldn’t be a factor in determining whether someone is worthy of success.
Lil Nas X coming out with everybody’s eyes on him demonstrates his courage and strength. He is a role model for all of the little black boys and girls out there who may be questioning their own sexuality. Overall, it made me appreciate him a lot more, especially because he did it at a time where everybody’s eyes were on him in the media. Lil Nas X was the sound of Summer 2019and shook pop culture from that point forward. Also, follow him on twitter!!