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Lil Nas X Rewrites Hip-Hop Rulebook Again, Embraces Pride

The "Old Town Road" rapper points to visual clues on his latest release "7" that suggest he's out.

Lil Nas X arrives at the
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shu

“MY FIRST TIME IN ANOTHER COUNTRY!!! INSANE,” tweeted Lil Nas X on June 30 along with a video of him stealing the spotlight from both Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus at the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival. But as far as impressive firsts go — like re-writing the hip-hop rulebook with his twang-trap sound, or rocking Europe’s biggest music festival at the young age of 20 — he had another surprise in store on the last day of Pride month. Two hours later, the Atlanta-born rapper and arguably the new face of country music came out as a member of the LGBTQ community on Twitter.

“Some of y’all already know, some y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone FWM no more,” Lil Nas X tweeted. “But before this month ends I want y’all to listen closely to ‘c7osure.’ ” And in case it wasn’t clear that he was referring to his sexual identify, he added a rainbow emoji. “C7osure (You Like),” which he co-wrote, is one of eight songs on “7,” the debut EP Lil Nas X dropped earlier last month which features collaborations with Cardi B, Ryan Tedder, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails’ Atticus Ross, Blink-182’s Travis Barker and, on their runaway smash “Old Town Road,” Billy Ray Cyrus.

While “C7sosure” isn’t likely to explode on Spotify anytime soon, it will at least go down in history as one of the few hip-hop coming-out anthems. “I want and I need / To let go, use my time to be free,” raps Lil Nas X. “Ain’t no more actin’, man … Pack my past up in the back, oh, let my future take ahold / This is what I gotta do, can’t be regrettin’ when I’m old … Embracin’ 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.”

Three hours later, Lil Nas X followed up with a Tweet that zoomed in on his EP’s artwork, revealing a rainbow pattern emblazoned across the city skyline — a visual clue that eluded seemingly everyone. “Deadass thought I made it obvious,” he joked. His sense of humor was further evidenced in response to the public’s reaction to his personal news. When one fan made a typo while attempting to tweet his support (“Lil Nas came out as a guy that’s cool”), the artist retweeted and added: “It’s true I am a guy.”

But the serious impact of Lil Nas X’s announcement — coy as it may have been — wasn’t lost on the LGBTQ community. “People should be able to come out in their own way, in their own words, and on their own timeline,” Anthony Ramos, GLAAD’s head of talent engagement, tells Variety. “So many LGBTQ youth are cheering for Lil Nas X and he now has a tremendous opportunity to continue to speak about being a part of the community. His voice could be a true game-changer that will grow LGBTQ acceptance in rap.”

Indeed, Variety wrote about this very subject in its Power of Pride issue last month under the banner: “What Happened to the Black Queer Music Revolution That Frank Ocean Almost Started?”