As A Gay Man, I See A Lot More In Lil’ Nas X’s ‘Montero’ Video Than Him Giving The Devil A Lap Dance
If the concern is about Black gay men and how over-sexualized we are in the media, get over that. We have sex, period.
March 29, 2021 at 6:51 pm
Opinions are the writer’s own and not those of Blavity's.
I'm a kindergarten teacher and I would show little Black boys the new music video for Lil’ Nas X and his single “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).”
Got ya’, didn’t I? No, of course I would not show the video to them. I would not show it to anyone who is not an adult. Ever. But, I also would not be upset if they saw it somewhere else. Why? Because in the mix, somewhere, there is a little Black gay boy, like the one I used to be, looking for someone like him — having fun, flipping the imagery placed onto us in the name of bigotry on its neck, and embracing the beauty instead.
Be very clear, Lil’ Nas X (birth name, Montero Lamar Hill) is beautiful. His deep Black hue jumps off any screen into anybody’s lap (no pun intended for anyone who has already seen the video), illuminated further by his deep brown eyes and his infectious smile with teeth that should earn his dentist a Nobel Prize. It is his inner beauty and authenticity as a mainstream gay rapper, in an industry drowning in homoantagonism, hypermasculinity and misogyny, that makes him amazing to watch. Actually, contrary to popular belief, young Black boys may need to watch his new video causing all of this controversy.
Is it at all off-putting that just a few months ago he released a children’s book and called children his “core audience at the moment,” and has then somehow “degenerated” to the imagery in “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”? Absolutely not. First, he is a grown man, as some people seem to forget, and he has created material for adults this go-round. Yay. Second, in my eyes, everything he does is interrelated; he is reaching out to different genres and ages of people in different ways and is changing the world in a positive way in doing so.
This music video is just days old and has already received backlash from conservatives for his sexual and religious charged “demonic” imagery, especially for young viewers that look up to Lil’ Nas X. We must remove the idea that sexuality is something to hide from our children. Studies show that by talking to kids about sex, they are far less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors. However, this goes further than sex and sexuality.
We must also remove the only images they see under the guise of “respectability” coming forth in images of public figures like Barack Obama, or Dr. King, or a Black Bill Gates in the making. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with these ways of being. Still, we must stop creating this monolith of respectability. Someone like Lil’ Nas X publically embracing himself, his sexuality, his body (autonomy) and his ability to challenge people by being out in his life, career and artistry is the most respectable thing a Black (gay) man can do right now in a society that is seemingly intent on destroying us all.
If the concern is about Black gay men and how over-sexualized we are in the media, get over that. We have sex, period. It's nice to see our sexuality mainstream. Now, if the concern is that our children are becoming sexualized, as an educator, I will reiterate that these issues arise when the adults in the room are not paying attention. Putting on my teacher’s hat again, I have come to understand that when chaos happens in my classroom, 90% of the time it is due to my being preoccupied elsewhere, or just being flat out unprepared.
Lil’ Nas X is not a parent. He is not an educator. As adults who are, we can embrace the images in the world and use them to facilitate conversations of growth, to help kids develop positive identity development, to help them cultivate sovereignty of the body — herby preventing dysmorphic thoughts, confusion or misinformation — and to simply connect with kids using pop culture.
Furthermore, if the concern is the religious images that Lil’ Nas X utilized in his video, remember that he is not the first, and he will not be last. Let us all be very clear of where the images equating sexual deviance and damnation to hell came from. It came from those self-supposed religious leaders who have made it their mission to create physical, emotional, social and/or mental health roadblocks for LGBTQ+ people for centuries. For Lil’ Nas X to use those images to his advantage, either to troll those images or to express himself freely, I say more power to him. Best believe there is some young Black boy who is watching this, much to the chagrin of adults everywhere, and is prouder and more in love with himself. Hallelujah.
Montero has chosen this particular version of self-love. If it is not something you ascribe to, that is OK, to some extent. What can make those views a problem is that when they appear, disrespect, false notions of being holier than thou and flat-out reaching rhetoric more often than not comes along with it. Lil’ Nas X is not asking little Black boys to dance on the laps of the Devil (as fun as that sounds). What he has done with his video and its unapologetic raunchiness far from negates but, in fact, makes vividly clear the positive impact on what it means to be in the expression of sexual and gender-based fluidity. Is his imagery the only way to achieve that? No. Nevertheless, it is indeed a way. A good one.
He is indeed pushing an agenda, for all Black and gay boys past, present and future, to show that we are here, we are sexy, we get nasty and we laugh in the face of the Devil (both literally and figuratively). He is not destroying or corrupting children. People rejecting, beating and/or killing young, gay people are. (#RIPNigelShelby) This ongoing pandemic, in which LGBTQ+ youth are forcibly entrapped into living with homo and/or femme-antagonistic parents, is.
Let us all try and use this as a positive moment to not disregard or disparage Lil’ Nas X. I, a teacher of the young and the most innocent among us, hope parents and other adults will see this video and be willing to connect with their children, help them understand what is going on, help them understand why this is important and celebrate self-love.