Lil Nas X has broken several milestones in the music industry since his breakout single “Old Town Road” in 2019. Being a Black gay rapper, Nas challenges the image most people have attributed to successful artists in hip-hop this image is fueled by machismo and often homophobic, misogynistic rhetoric but as he told playwright Jeremy O. Harris for GQ’s latest cover story, all he is trying to do is be himself.
“The whole landscape is very hypermasculine,” he said about the music industry. “I do feel like this newer generation of rappers who are coming in, and the ones who are here, are going to have to reshape their thoughts. Because change is happening. There’s going to be so many gay rappers. There’s going to be more trans people in the industry and whatnot. Ten years from now, everything that I’m doing won’t even seem like it was shocking.”
Lil Nas has experienced several homophobic attacks since stepping into stardom. Recently, rapper Boosie Badazz unleashed a homophobic Twitter rant against him, encouraging him to “commit suicide,” after which the LGBTQ community instantly rose to his defense, including his own dad.
“I feel bad for DaBaby. I hope he grows from it. I hope he’s able to. But I don’t know,” Nas said, “I feel like my relationship with my dad is closer now, but growing up, it just wasn’t there as much. Nothing where I felt like I could open up to him or anything. I think he probably definitely had his moments of ‘He’s definitely gay’ or something. Also, because I wasn’t willing to open up about that. If that would have happened at that time, I don’t feel like I’d be here right now.” Part of the healing process has been to write openly about his family in his work, which he admitted is always a “difficult decision.”
“When I came into the music industry, I never wanted anything about my family life or home life to be out there,” he explained. “But then, as the pandemic was going on, I was kind of thinking, We’re all human beings. We all have similar experiences. I’m sure there’s somebody out there with the exact same situation as me. So I might as well open up my life. I want to build a fan base of honesty and authenticity. And I was like, I have to go there. When I feel like I shouldn’t do it, I feel like that’s when I should definitely go for it.”
Despite the criticism he receives, Lil Nas is choosing to channel it into something positive. “This year is probably the most important, or feels like the best because it’s real,” he said. “It wasn’t safe. I’m so used to being safe on everything.”