Sunday, July 07, 2019

In a Historic First, Country Music's Latest Star Is a Queer Black Man

Yes, I know that the "Pride month" of June is over, but The Wild Reed's Queer Appreciation series continues with news of a history-making first.

I'll let Milverton Saint explain . . .

Lil Nas X is a queer Black man who has spent 12 weeks in the number one spot of the Billboard Hot 100 chart with a country song. That's three solid months in the top spot.

Old Town Road” was also the number one song in Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, and the UK. It has also been certified Platinum in France, the UK, and Italy; double Platinum in New Zealand; triple Platinum in the United States; and five times Platinum in Australia.

A queer dark-skinned Black man held the number one spot in 14 countries, went platinum in six countries, and was at the top of the US Hot 100 chart for the entirety of Queer Pride month.

This is history.


Following are the two official videos for “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, a song that features Billy Ray Cyrus. They're followed (with added images and links) by a recent piece from The Huffington Post in which the rapper talks about the “backlash” his coming out has stirred within some circles.

Yeah, I'm gonna take my horse to the old town road
I'm gonna ride 'til I can't no more
I'm gonna take my horse to the old town road
I'm gonna ride 'til I can't no more . . .


Lil Nas X: “I’m Already Getting Backlash for Coming Out as Gay”

By Curtis Wong

The Huffington Post
July 5, 2019

The “Old Town Road” rapper told the BBC that he’s focused on “opening the doors” for greater LGBTQ representation in country and hip-hop music.

Lil Nas X surprised fans last weekend when he opened up about his sexuality for the first time publicly in a series of tweets. Though the rapper’s announcement quickly lit up social media, he says not all of the response has been positive.

The “Old Town Road” star last Sunday urged his Twitter followers to “listen closely” to his song “C7osure” before the end of LGBTQ Pride Month. In a subsequent tweet, he posted the cover art of his EP “7,” which features a rainbow-colored building.

“Deadass thought I made it obvious,” he wrote.

True say
I want and I need
To let go
Use my time to be free
It's like it's always what you like
It's always what you like
Why it's always what you like?
It's always what you like, huh
Ain't no more actin', man that forecast say I should just let me grow
No more red light for me, baby, only green, I gotta go
Pack my past up in the back, oh, let my future take a hold
This is what I gotta do, can't be regretting when I'm old

Brand new places I'll choose and I'll go, I know
Embracing this news I behold unfolding
I know, I know, I know it don't feel like it's time
But I look back at this moment, I'll see that I'm fine
I know, I know, I know it don't feel like it's time
I set boundaries for myself, it's time to cross the line . . .

– Lil Nas X

Fresh off his performance with Miley Cyrus at the 2019 Glastonbury Festival, Lil Nas X confirmed to the BBC on Friday that any fan confusion the tweets may have created was unintentional, and that he meant them to be read as a public statement “that I’m gay.”

“It’s something I was considering never doing, ever,” he said in the interview. “Taking [it] to the grave. But I don’t want to live my entire life – especially how I got to where I’m at – not doing what I want to do.”

As for whether he’d received any backlash in the wake of his announcement, he added, “Oh, I’m already getting it.”

The 20-year-old Georgia native, however, is taking any criticism in stride, because he “used to be that person being negative.”

“Old Town Road,” which features Billy Ray Cyrus, continues to be a massive hit among both country and hip-hop audiences. Given his crossover success, Lil Nas X told the BBC he’s primarily focused on serving as a role model for artists in both of those genres, where identifying as LGBTQ is still “not really accepted.”

“I feel like [I’m] opening the doors for more people,” he said.

Watch a clip of Lil Nas X’s BBC interview below.

– Curtis M. Wong
The Huffington Post
July 5, 2019

NEXT: Historian Martin Duberman on the
Rightward Shift of the Gay Movement

Related Off-site Links:
‘Old Town Road’– How the TikTok-propelled Country-trap Banger Sparked Debate About Genre, Race and Exclusion – Julia Czub (NME, May 1, 2019).
Lil Nas X Drives Taylor Swift Off the Road to No. 1 Again – Cole Delbyck (The Huffington Post, June 25, 2019).
Lil Nas X Fans Celebrate After He Appears To Come Out In Cryptic Pride Tweets – Dominique Mosbergen (The Huffington Post, July 1, 2019).
Lil Nas X Discusses Coming Out as Gay in New Interview – Rob Arcand (Spin, July 5, 2019).
Lil Nas Opened Up About His Decision to Come Out as Gay – And How He's Dealing With Haters – David Mack (BuzzFeed, July 5, 2019).
“It’s Literally About Horses” – Lil Nas X Responds to Fans Claiming “Old Town Road” Is About Gay Sex – Patrick Clarke (NME, July 1, 2019).

UPDATES: Lil’ Nas X’s “Old Town Road” Is the Most Successful #1 Rap Song of All-Time; Remains #1 After Singer Comes Out As Gay – Waddie G (The G-Listed, July 8, 2019).
America Needed a Gay, Black Man to Top Its Country Charts. Protect Lil Nas X at All Costs – Quintez Brown (Louisville Courier Journal, July 9, 2019).

For previous installments in The Wild Reed's 2019 Queer Appreciation series, see:
Quote of the Day – May 31, 2019
James Baldwin's Potent Interweavings of Race, Homoeroticism, and the Spiritual
John Gehring on Why Catholics Should Participate in LGBTQ Pride Parades
A Dance of Queer Love
The Queer Liberation March: Bringing Back the Spirit of Stonewall
Barbara Smith on Why She Left the Mainstream LGBTQI Movement
Remembering the Stonewall Uprising on Its 50th Anniversary

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