The Rapper Lil Nas X Unapologetically Owns His Sexuality
Lil Nas X's "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" Music Video Resonates With Queer, Black Fans.
Lil Nas X just dropped the video for his latest single, "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," and fans — especially queer and Black fans — have a lot of feelings about the visionary project.
The catchy hit sees the young rapper at the crossroads of hip hop and sexuality like few have attempted before. The track and its accompanying CGI-heavy video are unapologetically queer, doused in the equal parts angelic fluff and demonic eroticism, and drawing the opinions of just about everyone online.
The video features Lil Nas X trying on a variety of alter egos, including aliens and a Marie Antoinette-esque character; it's clearly influenced by sci-fi and fantasy — and it plays with religious imagery, as we see him dancing for the devil at one point. “The story opens in a lush Garden of Eden where Nas first introduces the theme of duality, which is displayed throughout the video,” an official description from his record label reads. The video is also very queer, and a celebration of Lil Nas's journey to coming out and celebrating himself. “In life, we hide the parts of ourselves we don’t want the world to see,” he says in the intro. “We lock them away. We tell them, ‘No.’ We banish them. But here, we don’t.”
“He plays the role of Adam as well as the snake that tempts him into giving in to the carnal desires he was forbidden to explore, and we see the two merge and become one. Following a nod to Plato’s Symposium displayed on the tree of life, a shackled up Nas finds himself at his execution day in the Colosseum, where he is surrounded by and receiving judgement from various versions of himself.
“Once he has been executed, he ascends to heaven only to be pulled down to hell where he harnesses his sexuality to seduce the devil and strip him of his power as an evil force—and dismantling the throne of judgement and punishment that has kept many of us from embracing our true selves out of fear.”
The video also came accompanied by a sweet note from Lil Nas X to his younger self, which he posted on Instagram. “Dear 14-year-old Montero, I wrote a song with our name in it. It’s about a guy I met last summer. I know we promised to never come out publicly, I know we promised to never be ‘that’ type of gay person, I know we promised to die with the secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist," he wrote. "You see this is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say I’m pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am. The agenda to make people stay the f*ck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be. Sending you love from the future. -LNX”
Once there, he seduces Satan himself and the two of them have a grand old time before our hero murders (!) him and steals his horns. A Genesis to Revelation narrative, if we've ever seen one. The lyrics are equally spicy, with Lil Nas X getting to the point, real quick:
You live in the dark, boy, I cannot pretend
I'm not phased, only here to sin
If Eve ain't in your garden, you know that you can...
The video is rife with Biblical and classical references, but full of symbology though it may be, the message is very clear: That Lil Nas X guy who came out with "Old Town Road" is Queer as Fuck. The man literally went to hell to grind on the devil in thigh high boots. There is not a huge amount of nuance here. And you can damn him if you want and you can cast judgment, but he's going to go to hell and steal the crown from the very entity you're threatening him with. Lil Nas X is getting laid in hell before he snatches that crown. If that's religion, so be it. If it's hip hop's history of homophobia, fine. But long story short, Lil Nas X is going to release this banger about queer sex. He's going to wreak havoc on the music industry's expectations. And it's going to be set to the beat of a certified bop.
Fans loved the video, and flooded Twitter with their praise. "Rip Shakespeare, I know you would’ve loved Montero by Lil Nas X," tweeted one, making a play on a popular Twitter meme. "Lil Nas X being unapologetically BLACK & GAY, giving queer kids someone to look up to AND pissing of homophobes in the process " shared another. "Lil Nas X lap-dancing the Devil is my new religion," tweeted a fan. "Yeah when I was a kid I legit imagined how cool it would be for there to be a gay rapper/hip hop artist and how interesting and those music videos and lyrics would be. Lil Nas X’s MONTERO music video satisfies all of those dreams," wrote another.
You Should See Me In a Crown author Leah Johnson wrote, “I don’t wanna get too emo about Lil Nas X on main but I really love this kid. So many queer folks, young and old, need to see what he’s doing to know it’s possible to be an out Black queer person and still have joy and success and freedom. I need to see it, still. Abundance.”
A few other Twitter users also noticed striking similarities between "Montero" and FKA twigs's video for "Cellophane." Some found the visuals extremely similar, including the pole dancing scenes, and thought it could be a shoutout to an artist Lil Nas X admires. "The Cellophane (by FKA Twigs) reference in the Montero music video masterpiece ... I see you @LilNasX & your taste is immaculate," shared a fan. Whether or not "Montero" was inspired by "Cellophane," it's a visually gorgeous and clearly meaningful project for Lil Nas X, and we're going to be watching it at least five more times today!