May 5th, 2022, 04:00 PM

Threatening the Status Quo

By Ian Stone
Image Credit: Unsplash/Sebastian Ervi
How Lil Nas X is changing the rap industry for LGBTQ+ individuals and what makes it so significant.

As one of the biggest rapping icons in Hollywood, Lil Nas X, fully named Montero Lamar Hill, came to fame with his song “Old Town Road”. He originally bought the beat of the song for $30 online which soon became number one of three billboard lists, including the Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Country Songs. Lil Nas X, after coming into a huge wave of fame, came out of the closet as gay and decided to be open about his sexuality as his fame grew. He felt hat it was his duty to be open with his fans and could be an inspiration as being a black Hip-Hop/R&B rapper in his generation.

In an effort to dismantle the hyper-masculinity in the Hip-Hop industry, rapper Lil Nas X emerges seemingly unfazed as the leader of a new counterculture. The Grammy Awards winning rapper appears to be going about his business giving gay black men mainstream representation against all odds in a characteristically heterosexual industry. A critical analysis of the phenomenon that the rapper has brought with him to Hollywood shows that he is setting forth a movement that is allowing the hitherto unheard of normalization of homosexuality in popular culture. He is leading gay men into social spaces from which they have historically been shunned.


A post shared by MONTERO (@lilnasx)


Lil Nas X’s counterculture in the rap industry has threatened to cause backlash since it upsets the longstanding heterosexual status quo. Countercultures can be very unsettling, especially in an industry such as popular culture where perception is all that matters. It is to be understood that homosexuality is an issue that often flies under the radar because people operate under certain assumptions about it. One of these assumptions is that society is not necessarily against homosexuality; people simply want to retain some dignified way of doing things. For instance, being gay does not necessarily mean that you have to push the agenda if such actions will be construed as undignified. This way, society has always existed in the comfort zone of having a ‘silent gay community.’

The idea of a silent gay community does not sit well with others, especially those in a liberal quest for social order. They find the idea offensive as some think it is an infringement on civil liberties. According to the US constitution, everybody reserves the right to ‘pursue happiness’ and requiring the gay community to remain covert would appear to be a violation of this right. As such, the Lil Nas X-led counterculture is speaking for this liberal section of the society. These are voices that have long been suppressed and now they are fighting back against what is perceived as runaway homophobia. In one of his videos, for example, the rapper challenges the idea of the silent gay community by performing with naked male dancers.

With his recent activities increasingly being perceived as recklessly defiant, Lil Nas X’s counterculture has upset the status quo forcing it to push back in an effort to control narrative. Homosexuality remains a very sensitive issue that is polarizing in social and political commentary. It is very difficult to find common ground on the issue of gay identities because such debates are marred by opinionated and partisan fallout. The conservative section of society remains largely opposed to the liberal quest for the normalization of homosexuality.


A post shared by MONTERO (@lilnasx)

Given the polarizing nature of the gay issue, Lil Nas X’s counterculture has spurred a very uncomfortable conversation that has attracted racist and homophobic slurs. The rapper is on the record speaking of the near traumatizing experiences that he has been going through, which is understandable since such bold moves will definitely attract massive opposition. On the other hand, a passionate section of the liberal society has lauded Lil Nas X’s bravely subsequently defending his style as ‘artistic and creative.’

Sexual orientation remains an issue that often flies under the radar in the characteristically hyper-masculine rap industry. Deviating from this norm, Lil Nas X has introduced a counterculture that threatens to upset the status quo. The backlash has been huge with sociologists believing it to be a precursor of a larger movement that could redefine the place of gay men in popular culture. It is an interesting phenomenon that has prompted numerous debates in social and political commentary. Lil Nas' effort to allow gay men into social spaces that were hitherto reserved for heterosexual males could contribute in dismantling the model hyper-masculine culture.