In nearly three years, Lil Nas X has already become a music industry icon and an active voice for the LGBTQ+ community. The 22-year-old singer won two Grammy Awards thanks to his mega-hit, ‘Old Town Road’ and his song ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’ recently won an MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year . He’s collaborated with stars like Cardi B, Doja Cat, and Miley Cyrus, and he even earned five more Grammy nominations for his debut album, MONTERO. He accomplished all of this and more, while staying true to his queer identity through his lyrics, visuals, and red carpet looks.
In his last interview with CBS News, the “That’s What I Want” rapper has criticized the music industry for its tendency to “sanitize” queer artists and their self-expression. While he may not be the first openly gay artist on the scene, he’s notably known for his creative decisions and his comments against homophobia (ahem, see the full “Montero” clip).
“I feel like I’m a lot more ‘out there’ with it,” he said. CBS News correspondent Tracy Smith. “It’s always been, ‘Okay, if you’re gay, this needs to be sanitized. Let’s not include anything sexual.’ It’s like, ‘Be gay without to be gay. We don’t want to know what’s going on in camera, or we don’t want you to voice it. ‘”
“I say I’ll do it if I want to,” he continued. “And I want all the other artists to feel the same way.”
In 2021, Lil Nas X was named one of Time‘s 100 Most Influential People of the Year and received accolades from fellow rapper Kid Cudi, who called Nas a “true rock star” for his efforts to break the “homophobic cloud” that hangs over the genre.
“Lil Nas X is a new spin on some of the themes I was riding on when I started out: being true to yourself and not caring what anyone says,” Cudi wrote for Time. “What he’s doing is what we need right now.”
Sam is Seventeen’s editorial assistant, covering pop culture, celebrity news, health and beauty. When she’s not blushing her cheeks, you can probably find her live-tweeting or doing SwiftToks.