Lil Nas X on the set of ’Industry Baby’. Picture: Instagram
Lil Nas X on the set of ’Industry Baby’. Picture: Instagram

Lil Nas X is standing up for himself in a society that actively hates queer people

By Jamal Grootboom Time of article published Aug 2, 2021

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Rapper, Lil Nas X recently dropped the video for his new single, “Industry Baby”. And it’s a marvel.

“Industry Baby” is produced by Kanye West and Take a Daytrip.

It’s a high octane song with horns blasting and thumping baseline and it’s set to be another hit record for the young musician.

However, it is the music video is what has made the song and Lil Nas X, one of the most topical stories this week.

Lil Nas X hatches a plan to escape from prison, even though is appears that he’s having fun while incarcerated.

It’s loudly sexual – there are scenes where he is fondling his dancers (inmates) and a nude dance scene in the shower with everyone’s nether regions pixelated.

It’s an unabashedly queer music video and he is clearly having fun, as he does with all his videos.

However, the backlash to the video has been massive.

And as expected homophobes, especially cishet (both cisgender and heterosexual) men, especially Black men, from across the web attacked him on Twitter and Instagram with either blatant homophobia or micro-aggressive comments regarding queer black men.

This includes the idea that he’s part of “the gay agenda turning everyone queer”, that he’s part of “the plan to feminise and emasculate the ’black man’ ” and that he’s “doing too much now”.

Lil Nas X is known for being a troll and for entertaining these comments with razor-sharp clap backs, and while he still did it this time, he also took time to seriously address the homophobic comments he was receiving.

So why does Lil Nas X's queerness offend cishet men so much?

The obvious answer is homophobia, but several other factors play a role.

The main one being misogyny.

Queerness, specifically with men, is often equated to femininity, whether the person presents as femme or not. And since we live in a patriarchal society, femininity, is always derided.

Cishet men in hip hop, especially, have played a huge part in perpetuating these ideals with how they sexualise and degrade women in their lyrics and music videos.

By extension, when a queer man in music expresses themselves freely and openly, this challenges their perception of what masculinity is; and while Lil Nas X isn’t the first queer man to make it in the mainstream music industry, he is the openly gay black man to achieve this level success in pop and hip hop music while presenting to some degree of “femme”.

Additionally, with his recent work, the rapper made a conscious effort to express his queerness, not only in his red carpet appearances and interviews but also in his art, promoting LGBTQI+ representation in mainstream media.

More than anything else, it’s Lil Nas X’s queer expression that drives cishet black men bonkers, since patriarchy and toxic masculinity has put them in this small box with regards to self-expression.

And seeing a cisman being able to express himself without those shackles frustrates them to the core.

We saw again recently how hip hop heads keep being in queer people’s business unprovoked, when the DaBaby decided to perpetuate the stigma around HIV/Aids along with making homophobic remarks at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami – making these remarks out of the blue, since there was no prompt for or reason for it.

And while he gave a half-hearted apology for his HIV/Aids comments – mostly likely due to a couple of bags being lost – all he had for the queer community was “the LGBT community ... I ain’t trippin on y’all, do you. Y’all business is y’all business. (sic)".

Rapper TI also chimed in, making a false equivalency between freedom of speech and homophobia. He said on Instagram: “If Lil Nas X can kick his sh** in peace ...then so should Dababy.” He was basically saying that if Lil Nas X can be his true self in public, then DaBaby should be allowed to be homophobic.

However, even with all this push back, Lil Nas X is still thriving and Industry Baby is set to top the charts.

And across the board, black queer men are making music in various genres and getting the attention they deserve.

You have Durand Bernarr, who dropped his gay R&B album “Dur&”, recently dropped his pop album “There Will Be Tears”, which is sure to be on high rotation at gay clubs.

MNEK has also been holding it down in the UK, not only with his music, but producing and writing several hit records for artists including Little Mix.

Todrick Hall also made a way for himself and has been able to attract rather a cult-like following, with his most recent album “Femuline” cranking the gay to the highest volume.

And with women in hip hop taking over when it comes to popularity in the genre, and Lil Nas X, this is going to push these gatekeepers of hip hop to rethink their views and realise there is no gay agenda or feminisation of the black men happening.

These men have always been there and can out rap, out perform and out sell you – so if don’t get with the programme, you will be left behind.

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