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PRIDE SPECIAL:
LIL NAS X IN 3D

Columbia’s Lil Nas X had the biggest song in the world—“Old Town Road”—right out of the box. But he’s subsequently refused to be put in a box. Though he came out in a playfully understated way shortly after his single went supernova, the 22-year-old Georgia native born Montero Lamar Hill took his time in crafting a musical statement about his sexuality. When he did, with the blockbuster single “MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name)” and its saucy, provocative video, he once again dominated the cultural conversation. While an official drop date is TBA, Lil Nas’ debut full-length could be just weeks away. As pop songwriting luminary Justin Tranter remarks about him in our forthcoming Pride issue, “Lil Nas X is our first queer superstar that the world is allowing to be three-dimensional.” Though his increased confidence is obvious, Lil Nas remains as endearing as he was the day he ambled in with his irresistible amalgam of country and trap. It’s just that now he’s ready to tell his whole story.

You were already out, in a somewhat low-key way, before “MONTERO.” What made you decide to make this bold statement? It must’ve been scary to open yourself up; can you give us a sense of what that was like for you?
It was scary, but “MONTERO” was the most important song of my career so far, and I wanted to give a statement. I wanted to let everyone know where I was coming from, and that was part of my purpose behind releasing it. I want my fans who are struggling to one day be comfortable with who they are and know that they aren’t the only ones going through it. This song and video were just as much for them as for me.

We seem to be living in two competing versions of America right now, one that is inclusive and forward-thinking and one that fears change and wants to embrace the past. How much did that backdrop fuel your desire to release “MONTERO?”  
I guess you can say it fueled it a little bit. But I was mostly just doing what felt was right for where I was in my life and my career at that time. I’m really glad that I can be my most honest and confident self in this song and at the same time be a voice for the people who are inclusive and embracing change. Any part I can play in furthering that conversation I’m grateful for.

How has the decision to tell more of the truth about your life affected your creativity? Have you felt more inspired?
Definitely. I feel like my walls and my filters are all coming down now that I’ve really found the confidence in myself that I struggled to find for so long. This album is going to be 100% honest MONTERO, showing all angles and all sides of me. I just know the sky is the limit for me creatively.

Your artistry has blurred the lines between musical genres and obliterated some long-held perceptions about the sexual orientation of the artists in those genres. Do you feel that some of the different audiences you’ve appealed to have responded to this differently? What are you hearing from fans?
There are definitely polar-opposite opinions out there on my music from different audiences, and that’s fine. As long as people are listening, I’m winning. I’m thankful that the love outweighs the hate. I really appreciate all the love and support from the fans, and there’s a lot of it out there—I truly have the best fans in the world.

Photo credit: Charlotte Rutherford

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