Lil Nas X at the Tom Ford AW20 Show at Milk Studios on February 7, 2020. (Mike Coppola/FilmMagic/Getty)
Lil Nas X has admitted that he planned to remain in the closet for the rest of his life, until ‘Old Town Road’ made him a star at the age of 19.
The country rap star was catapulted into fame early last year when his hit song went viral on TikTok. Just a few months later he came out as gay on the last day of Pride month, breaking down barriers in a genre not known for its tolerance of homosexuality.
But he is certain he would’ve kept his sexuality a secret for the rest of his life if he hadn’t become famous.
“The honest truth is, I planned to die with the secret,” he told The Guardian. “But that changed when I became Lil Nas X.”
Lil Nas X was raised in a small town in Atlanta, Georgia, where he saw the pain and homophobia gay people experienced and was sure that he himself could never come out.
He said he would often watch fashion shows on his phone, but never thought he would be “brave or rich enough” to wear such explicitly queer outfits.
That all changed in a whirlwind year that culminated in six Grammy nominations, including best record for Old Town Road and best album for 2019’s 7.
“It was like the world was playing a prank on me,” he said, remembering that just two years ago he was sleeping on his sister’s floor and praying to be straight.
He revealed that he made the decision to come out after performing to a crowd of thousands at Glastonbury with Miley Cyrus last summer.
“There was nothing really holding me back any more,” Lil Nas said – and the rest is history.
Having viewed his sexuality with shame for most of his life, the star is now determined to embrace life as a queer figurehead.
“I 100 percent want to represent the LGBT community,” he said, adding that he also worries about the safety and wellbeing of fans who may grapple with the decision to come out.
“I don’t want to encourage them to do something they don’t 100 percent want to do. Especially in, like, middle school or high school. Because it’s just super hard.”
He admitted that it’s “easier” for him, because “I’m not depending on anybody. There’s no one who’s going to kick me out of the house – nobody to start treating me shitty.”
Lil Nas X’s upcoming album will explicitly explore his queer identity, creating a form of social advocacy “through my art”.