2019 has undeniably been Lil Nas X’s year with after the 20-year-old Atlanta native’s record-breaking hit “Old Town Road” turned him into an overnight success. The month of June was particularly significant for the rising rap star for reasons that had nothing to do with music.
Lil Nas’ country-trap infusion had just broke new ground on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart as the longest running hip-hop single ever in the chart’s history when he made the brave decision to publicly come out on the last day of Pride Month in June.
As a newcomer who is still building a fan base in an ever-changing music landscape, being an openly Black queer artist was definitely a risk given hip hop’s history of homophobia, but also puts Lil Nas X in a unique position to lead rap’s next generation.
In a new interview with TIME that was published on Thursday (Aug. 15), Lil Nas opened up about about the impetus behind his decision to come out.
He admits he was taught homosexuality was “never going to be O.K.” due to his upbringing rooted in the church.
His concerns were further burdened by the possibility of losing fans once they knew he was queer. Despite that, Lil Nas was resolute he wanted to live life on his own terms. He jumped the hurdle by telling his sister and father first.
“I know the people who listen to this the most, and they’re not accepting of homosexuality,” he explained of his initial hesitation.
"I never would have done that if I wasn’t in a way pushed by the universe," Lil Nas went on to explain. "In June, I'm seeing Pride flags everywhere and seeing couples holding hands — little stuff like that."
His fans and most of the hip-hop community have shown their love and support to Lil Nas, though unfortunately a few people have been slower to get on board.
In April, fellow trapateer Young Thug expressed that he wished Lil Nas “never should have told the world” he is gay.
“It’s like these days...it’s just all judgment. It ain’t even about the music no more,” Thugger said in an interview with No Jumper backstage at the London Wireless Festival that was published in July. “Once [people] found out he was gay, soon as the song come on now, everybody like this gay a** nigga. People don’t even care to listen to the song no more.”
While Lil Nas X divulged he’s still coping with the pressures and anxiety of instant fame, the rap sensation’s outlook for the future is positive that the universe will continue to work out in his favor.
“Everything lined up for this moment to take me to this place,” Lil Nas resolved. “Not to sound self-centered, but it feels like I’m chosen, in a way, to do this stuff.”