It’s been a little more than a year since Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” rode into our hearts, making the newcomer an overnight sensation, and later, a Grammy winner and history-maker. The song spent the longest consecutive number of weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, spending 19 weeks at No. 1.
The Atlanta native also made headlines near the end of June 2019 for opening up about his sexuality, which he explained in a new interview that he initially planned to keep to himself.
“The honest truth is, I planned to die with the secret,” he recently told The Guardian. “But that changed when I became Lil Nas X.”
The music superstar, who turns 21 tomorrow (April 9), came out as gay to his fans via Twitter during the last few hours of Pride Month 2019, writing “Some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone fwm no more. but before this month ends i want y’all to listen closely to c7osure,” punctuating his post with a rainbow emoji. The song “C7osure” was featured on his Grammy-nominated EP 7, and contains lyrics about coming clean and being true to yourself.
“My family knows now,” he tells The Guardian of how his relatives have handled his announcement. “But it’s not something that’s ever brought up or we speak about. We’re quiet on it. Nobody’s like, ‘Oh, you got a boyfriend?’” He continues by saying he wishes he talked to his family a bit more and admits he has not been in communication with his mother for years.
In his appearances since coming out, Lil Nas has doubled down on being honest about his sexual orientation—however, not everyone is on board. Shortly after his announcement, he noted that he received homophobic comments on social media, but instead of being “angry,” he made sure to throw a few jokes back. Just last week as an April Fools’ joke, he wrote on Twitter that he was “never gay,” and added “where the hoes at” before saying he was kidding.
“I don’t want to just live my entire life, especially how I got to where I’m at, just not doing what I want to do,” he said in an interview. “I feel like opening the doors for more people. It’s not really accepted in either [country music or in the rap community].”
Does this mean Lil Nas X will explore sexuality in his music a la Frank Ocean? He tells The Guardian the songs on his upcoming album will explore themes of queer identity, and he’s also focused on making an impact socially.
“I 100% want to represent the LGBT community,” he explains. “I don’t want to encourage [LGBTQ fans] to do something they don’t 100% want to do. Especially in, like, middle school or high school. Because it’s just super hard.”