Lil Nas X said he was terrified when he publicly came out in 2019, noting his upbringing and the homophobia he saw in the music industry concerned him.
The “Industry Baby” singer tells Out magazine about the self-hatred he internalized when growing up in the South.
“Growing up in the Atlanta area, I [saw] a lot of microaggressions towards homosexuality,” LNX explained. “Little things like going into an IHOP and hearing one of your family members say, ‘Look at those f******’ to two people eating.”
The Grammy winner said that, because of his experiences, he began “pushing that part of myself in more and more, almost convincing myself that it’s not even actually there.”
The 22-year-old noted that the rap industry also fosters a sense of hyper-masculinity, a mold he said he tried to fit but found the burden too much to bear.
“Mentally, it’s really draining and straining sometimes,” LNX confessed. “The pressure of living your entire life knowing the identity of what a rapper is supposed to be, what rappers [are supposed to] do, and going out there in front of all these people, it’s terrifying.”
Since coming out, the rapper says he’s been trying to make space in the industry for more gay artists of color — a task he admittedly finds daunting.
“[The BET performance] was like jumping in a lake full of sharks and piranhas — and I’ve had to do that so many times within these last three years,” he said. “Even coming out, that was terrifying.”
As for how he finds the courage to press ahead, LNX said, “It takes you back in time, watching somebody else’s experience,” and hopes that his being out and proud will raise up more LGBT+ youth and inspire them to embrace themselves.
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