The 20 year-old. country-rap sensation Lil Nas X came out to his 2.2. million Twitter followers with this…
“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…
‘Embracin’ this news I behold unfolding … I know it don’t feel like it’s time. But I look back at this moment, I’ll see that I’m fine.’”
Roy Kinsey, a Chicago-based librarian and rapper at the forefront of Chicago’s queer rap scene says,
“Lil Nas X re-imagined an image of the Wrangler-wearing, horseback riding man’s man into a young black representative of youth culture, got the attention of two traditionally macho cultures and then came out on the last day of Pride. It was genius.”
The Atlanta native — born Montero Lamar Hill — became the biggest gay pop star in the world literally overnight.
Lil Nas X told theBBC,
“I feel like I’m opening the doors for more people. That they feel more comfortable [being out]. Especially in the … hip-hop community. It’s still not accepted …”
More young black men are exploring sexuality and exposing toxic masculinity. iLoveMakonnen, a protégé of Drake, came out in 2017. He says,
“It’s hard to be out in genres where being gay, or expressing your sexuality, is frowned upon. We are finally starting to see queer black men celebrated in the genre. But this is still a genre that has never been supportive of change.”
In the past, Hip-hop has refused to accept anything queer and Rap culture has always been powered by macho BS. Gay slurs show up in the lyrics of the genre’s most famous artists. Slang like as “sus” and “No homo” and “Pause” use being queer as a punchline.
But this younger generation seems less concerned with labels and much less heteronormative than it once was. In 2012, Frank Ocean broke new ground by writing about falling in love with a man on the eve of releasing his debut album, Channel Orange.
“I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore.”
Singer-songwriter Iman Jordan says,
“Frank Ocean was the beginning of the revolution. But people had to warm up to it and sometimes the collective warm-up can take more time than we think. We’ve gotten used to seeing white queer men become megastars. I’m looking forward to the day when [more] black queer men are seen.”
A diverse array of talents such as Brockhampton frontman Kevin Abstract, Steve Lacy and Skype Williams have all come out with new work seen through a black queer lens.
Williams, a New York-based DJ, producer says,
“[Black] queer women are having a better time than men right now, creatively. But male representation is moving in the right direction. The catalyst for this shift though? I think when people in political power are [threatening] our basic rights, art and music gets more interesting.”
…it’s easy to digest non-threatening, flaming, skinny gay men. It’s as simple as that. Some people have a hard time imagining anyone ‘other’ being complex.”
On Flower Boy,Tyler, the Creator casually raps about being attracted to men after years of using gay slurs (he still refuses to address this outside of the music)
“Truth is, since a youth kid, thought it was a phase / thought it’d be like the phrase; ‘poof,’ gone / But, it’s still goin’ on.”
When asked about Lil Nas X coming out, Young Thug (who has played with gender norms by wearing couture gowns) said,
“It ain’t even about the music no more. Soon as the song comes on, everybody’s like, ‘This gay ass …
[Dudes] don’t even care to listen to the song no more. Just to certain people. He’s young and backlash can come behind anything.”
Where does it go from here? The L.A. Times answers the question with a question,
“…is all this enough to swing the pendulum toward permanent change?
Hip-hop is at its queerest right now. Whether or not that moves beyond this moment is yet to be seen.”
(Photo, screen grab; via LA Times)