We Must Protect Lil Nas X At All Costs, Y’all

If you haven’t been living under a rock this past year, you know the chart-topping artist Lil Nas X. His song “Old Town Road” and its various remixes left him at #1 on the charts, untouched for months— even beating out the Queen, Mariah Carey. Below, see this cute picture of him with Lizzo at the recent MTV Video Music Awards. 

If his vibrant suits and catchy music weren’t enough to make this year an absolute world wind for Lil Nas X, he recently came out. He intrinsically planned his coming out, making history as the only artist EVER to come out while having a number-one record. This was such an important moment for the LGBTIQ community, but especially for Black gay men and boys. This is a queer Black man coming out during his ride coasting untouched at #1 on the charts. Don’t let Lil Nas X's humility fool you— this is monumental.

 

However, with the mass amount of love Lil Nas X has gotten, undoubtedly he has gotten some hate too. In a recent HBO episode of “The Shop: Uninterrupted,” he faced some confrontation from Rob Gronkowski, Kevin Hart, Charlamagne tha God and more. In the clip recently shared by HBO, series writer Paul Rivera asked Lil Nas X why he felt it was important to come out during his spree at #1 for “Old Town Road.” 

Kevin Hart, leaning back in his chair, interjected during Rivera’s intro:  “He said he was gay, so what?”

Lil Nas X was eager to respond, explaining, “It’s not like I was being forced. It’s just like knowing growing up, I’m growing up to hate this shit. I’m not supposed to ever like this—” 

Hart was quick to interrupt: “Hate what? Hate what?”

“Homosexuality. Gay people.” Lil Nas X responded

Again, Hart interrupted: “Why? Why are you growing to hate it?” 

You would not believe that Lil Nas X is actually 20 years old by the patient and thoughtful replies, telling Hart: “Come on, now. If you really from the hood, you know. You know it’s not something —” In the background, you can hear someone agree with his points about the stigma. 

Continuing, Lil Nas X explained, “If for me, the ‘cool dude with the song on top of everything,’ to say this at any other time, I’m doing this for attention… But if you’re doing this while you’re at the top, you know it’s for real. It’s showing it doesn’t really matter, I guess.”

 

This clip from the Shop did not do well, considered by many as an interrogation of Lil Nas X by Kevin Hart. Many recall Hart’s homophobic comments that resurfaced after he was set to host the 91st Oscars. A recently deleted 2011 tweet by Hart read, "Yo if my son comes home & try's 2 play with my daughters doll house I'm going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice 'stop that's gay.'” In a 2010 special “Seriously Funny,” Hart says,  "Keep in mind, I'm not homophobic, I have nothing against gay people, do what you want to do, but me, being a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will." Several other tweets included homophobic slurs such as, "why does (Damien Dante Wayans') profile pic look like a gay bill board for AIDS.” 

Whether you find these offensive or not, Hart’s questioning the validity of Lil Nas X’s coming out should come as no surprise. Hart doesn’t exactly have a great track record for supporting LGBTIQ people. Don’t even get me started on how Ellen Degenerous felt the need to be the white representative/saviour of the entire LGBTIQ community and collectively forgive Hart, even though his comments intrinsically hurt Black LGBTIQ people the most. 

 

Cue Twitter, please. This HBO clip was met with heated replies. Most felt relatively outraged at the way Lil Nas X was forced to defend himself: 

Some were astounded by how Lil Nas X stayed cool and collected during this clip:

A few resonated with Lil Nas X in the clip: 

Others alluded to how this HBO episode with Lil Nas X highlighted how much this conversation is needed regarding the intersectionality of Blackness and queerness, but also how this episode was done so poorly considering Kevin Hart’s comments and past:

One user gave an amazing suggestion for a better interviewer next time: 

The way Lil Nas X stayed collected as a 20-year-old musician in the face of 40-something-year-olds’ refusal to even digest his narrative surrounding his existence as a gay Black man is admirable, but also should have never happened. Frankly, the way he was attacked was ridiculous. Lil Nas X coming out should never be diminished or underscored, because it is vital for future LGBTIQ kids. The Human Rights Campaign and the University of Connecticut’s 2019 Black and African American LGBTQ Youth Report found alarming results from 1,600 respondents. One of the results included how two-thirds of African-American and Black LGBTIQ youth ranging from 13-18 years old have been verbally assaulted because of their LGBTIQ identity. These narratives of trailblazers for LGBTIQ youth of color are important because they provide frameworks for acceptance and love. To see your favorite artist, unapologetically gay and Black, at the top of the game is something that a lot of older LGBTIQ folks wished they had when they were growing up. 

Lil Nas X got to the root of something important when explaining how his coming out was important. Personally, I wished he would have had the chance to express his thoughts and experiences. You can trace notes of nervousness in his voice and I wish he would have felt safer telling his truth. There is something really special about a Black man telling the world he is gay, unafraid of the responses because he is already on top. There is something powerful in Lil Nas X and his courage to be his authentic self. Now go stream #Panini, please.