Lil Nas X is revolutionizing queer music



Lil Nas X pushes boundaries with his fashion, showcasing gender-bending pieces on red carpets.

Montero Lamar Hill, more commonly known as Lil Nas X, recently dropped his first studio album, “Montero.” The record debuted with an outstanding one million album sales and 1.3 billion streams.

The immediate popularity of the album was mostly due to the earlier release of the single “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name).” The song gained mass media attention because of the music video’s devilish themes. Lil Nas X later attracted more attention with the songs “SUN GOES DOWN,” “INDUSTRY BABY” and his loud social media presence. To put it simply, people were excitedly awaiting the album.

Historically, queer artists have been unable to sing about their queerness—whether it be about their sexuality or their struggles—and Lil Nas X is now unapologetically singing about all those aspects.

I personally loved “Montero.” I thought it was a perfect mix of pop and hip hop. Features included the ever-incomparable Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion and a pleasantly surprising Elton John feature. Miley Cyrus was featured on a beautiful ballad that brought me back to Lil Nas X’s original breakout hit, “Old Town Road.”

I never expected an album would feature both Megan Thee Stallion—one of the women behind “WAP”—and Sir Elton John. The musical diversity of the album shows how Lil Nas X has found a way to weave current queer culture with its much-concealed past.

Elton John, along with David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Culture Club, Wham! and so many more influential artists from the past few decades were queer musicians in a time where it was dangerous to openly express one’s identity. These artists could only show their queerness in their music through small innuendos or hidden meanings so that they would not get censored and shamed by the media.

Later on, queer acceptance reached a point where artists could talk about being queer but could not show their struggles with it. Songs like “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga or “Let’s Have a Kiki” by The Scissor Sisters are both incredible songs and should be given the credit they deserve for having overtly queer themes.

During this time, there was also a rise in the number of queer songs created by cisgender, heterosexual people. For example, artists like Britney Spears, Ariana Grande and Mariah Carey have produced songs that the queer community uses to embrace themselves and their power. These songs may not be intended to be used like that, but they are still an important part of the tapestry of queer music.

Lil Nas X is the next step in terms of queer music’s evolution. He is putting his sexuality at the forefront of his music; it is hard to not notice that he is gay when he is dancing on a stripper pole and giving a lap dance to Satan in the “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” music video. Queerness in music was once diluted to the point where you could barely notice someone’s queerness, so artists being able to visibly show their sexuality is historic.

In contrast with queer artists of the past, Lil Nas X feels able to use sex appeal and pain in his music to express all sides of his queer identity. In his song “SUN GOES DOWN,” he talks about his feeling of not knowing how to be both gay and Black. In the “INDUSTRY BABY” and “THAT’S WHAT I WANT” music videos, he is actively showing himself in sexual scenarios by showing himself naked in prison and having sex in a shower. While male rappers commonly sexualize others in their songs, it is rare for Lil Nas X, as a Black male rapper, to be actively sexualized for his own empowerment.

Lil Nas X incorporating pain into his songs is not that out-there in terms of heterosexual and cisgender music standards, but what he is doing is revolutionary for queer music. “Montero” is the beginning of a new wave of queer music, and it should be a guide for artists in the future.

“ONE OF ME” featuring Elton John is an example of artists putting their pain into their art. This song is about his fear of him being reduced to “Old Town Road” and only being a one-hit-wonder who will never progress past a blip on radio charts or never leave the bubble he has created. With John playing the piano in the background, listeners can feel the emotion in this poppy ballad, while the lyrics show Lil Nas X’s fear of being a one-hit-wonder and of never going anywhere in the world.

Lil Nas X has become a queer icon that will show the next generation that it is okay to be gay and that it is nothing to be ashamed of. He tells people that it is okay to not follow the standards created by cisgender and heterosexual people; you do not have to try and appeal to them, you can dress how you want and talk how you want. This is something that people need to hear, especially at a young age.

I can personally say that trying to fit into people’s ideas of what it means to be gay is exhausting, as well as the idea that you have to sit and take vile words thrown at you all in the name of making sure people think gay people are accomodating.

Lil Nas X is moving queer culture towards being able to express our pain without fear of unacceptance by straight people, and he is doing it all while wearing stripper heels and a golden suit of armor. So give him the praise he deserves and stream “Montero”!