Welcome Home, Lil Nas X!

Lil Nas X surprised the world by coming out on the last day of Pride Month, and to that, I say “hell yeah!” 

Being completely transparent with all of you, readers, I had no idea who Lil Nas X was until about the second week of June. I’m not one to turn on the radio, EVER, so I tend to miss the Top 40 trends unless they’re being discussed on one of the many podcasts I enjoy. 

Old Town Road began to haunt my earbuds and speakers after I stumbled across a clip on my Instagram feed; probably some trade twerking to the song, I’m sure. From that moment on I’ve been listening to the track on repeat and have added it to my overall music rotation. Also – I finally got a chance to sit with his latest project, 7, and have been digging it more and more with each listen. 

Here are the tweets Nas X shared:

nasx tweet 1

nasx tweet 2

(X highlights Pride colors on the cover of his EP, 7.)

 

I connect with his first tweet so deeply. I vividly remember the night I decided to come out to my closest friends and family. I was away at my first semester of college in Indiana and they were four hours behind in Alaska; MySpace was the main social girl back then, Facebook was still blooming, so I wasn’t creating any epic posts back in 2005. 

The email I sent to my inner circle had a similar tone as Lil Nax X’s tweet: “Hey, this is me. We can be cool, or y’all can have a nice life without me.” I won’t get too much into comparing my coming out to Lil Nas X’s because this is his moment; and what a moment it is! You’ll hear more about my coming out story on a future episode of my podcast, Thanks for Coming

Nax X also encouraged us all to listen to the lyrics of the track, C7osure (You Like) closely:

“True say

I want and I need

To let go

Use my time to be free

It’s like it’s always what you like

It’s always what you like

Why it’s always what you like?

It’s always what you like, huh

Ain’t no more actin’, man that forecast say I should just let me grow

No more red light for me, baby, only green, I gotta go

Pack my past up in the back, oh, let my future take a hold

This is what I gotta do, can’t be regretting when I’m old

Brand new places I’ll choose and I’ll go, I know

Embracing 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

I know, I know, I know it don’t feel like it’s time

I set boundaries for myself, it’s time to cross the line

True say

I want and I need

To let go

Use my time to be free

It’s like it’s always what you like

It’s always what you like

Why it’s always what you like?

It’s always what you like, huh

Ain’t no more actin’, man that forecast say I should just let me grow

No more red light for me, baby, only green, I gotta go

Pack my past up in the back, oh, let my future take a hold

This is what I gotta do, can’t be regretting when I’m old”

Source: LyricFind

In the end, Lil Nas X was ready to live his truth, out and proud. Not only is he making waves on the country charts – after all that controversy and ignorance he faced – as a black man, but now he’s facing the hip-hop/rap part of the industry. We’ve seen queer artists break the mold in other areas of music, but hip-hop and rap historically have been tougher audiences for queer performers to capture. While toxic masculinity is definitely a thing, and we won’t dive into that today, there has been an outpouring of support and love shown by peers of X online. This makes me very happy.

One last note for all you readers as more comes out about Lil Nas X, queerness in hip-hop/rap, sexuality and representation:

Continue to love and support the artists and music you love. If somehow you’re reading this blog and don’t fully support LGBTQIA+ rights, I charge you to be open and move in a more positive direction. Now that the rapper has come out as gay doesn’t make the song any less of a hit, or him any less of a human being. 

Some of you have children, and I KNOW the kids absolutely go crazy for Old Town Road. Don’t let your ignorance steal that joy from your kids or yourselves! Let the damned song play, keep YOUR mind out of the gutter, and don’t form narratives that aren’t present because you may view the artist a little differently. 

Allies! Continue to share the love with Lil Nas X, support his art, and help people understand how big a deal this is. We are in a time where discussion on topics of race, inclusion, and equal human rights is of the utmost importance – especially for queer people of color. The work will never be done, so let’s continue to lift Nas X up on this new adventure. 

Thanks for stopping by everyone! I’m going to listen to “7” again 🙂

More on the Country removing “Old Town Road” from the Billboard charts.

 

Stanning for Black Panther

I’ve got to get this out my system. The Black Panther movie was so great. I don’t know how else to say it. This movie was the superhero movie I didn’t know I needed.

Marvel is a franchise that does very well for itself, but there’s one thing we have to admit… the storylines and faces of epic white men and women somehow merge into one blob of the same ol’ story.

Getting to see a movie of this magnitude with a society  and a hero made up of people who look like me was a pretty cool experience. Not only did Director Ryan Coogler manage to get so many strong, black messages on the big screen, but each and every character was fun to get to know and kept the audience interested.

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As a viewer of color, I appreciated the timing of this movie. It’s already pretty tough to navigate life as a black, gay man, but doing it in Trump’s America is even more exhausting. The Black Panther was the motivation and push that I needed – a reminder to love myself, cherish my history and heritage, and to be the best version of myself.

Sure, it’s just another Marvel movie, but this is a huge deal! Never before has the black community had something like this. Representation in all avenues and facets of life is so important because it inspires future generations (of all colors and backgrounds).

Inspiration is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the glory of this cast and their performances. All this black excellence! Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, and so many more. So much female strength and empowerment throughout the movie. And the attention to detail! All of the tribes were designed and styled based on authentic African tribes.

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Okay, so I’m stanning a little bit. Stanning is when you’re “being overzealous or an obsessive fan of a particular celebrity.” All jokes aside, yes this movie is amazing to me because it was based in a black society with a black hero.

Most of the black roles we see on the big screen play supporting roles of some type or there has to be some sad undertone. Not all black stories are rooted in pain, suffering, or slavery. While all of those stories are important and a major part of my history, we as a people have been waiting for stories that are brighter and share successes; our triumphs.

In the Black Panther movie we see tough, all female warriors, a thriving black society with crazy tech and scientists, and heritage and tradition challenged. As a black dude who just recently received his AncestryDNA results, this movie made me want to dig more into my heritage and also made me think about what tradition meant to me.

I appreciate this movie so much.

Black Panther nailed it.

Ok, I’m done.

My Black Thoughts

I’ve always said that I’m bad about following the news, and keeping track of things that are going on around the world and in my country. “Twitter is where I get my news!” is what I usually say when people ask me if I’d seen some story on the eleven-o-clock news the night before. I’ve never been one to sit down and watch the news on television, read a newspaper, or actively search for developments in current events, but here recently, I’m having a hard time NOT checking the news. The list of unspeakable treatment of Black Americans is growing at an alarming rate, and the deaths of Black Americans – wrongfully killed – was a large list to begin with.  As a black man I have to follow these stories. I have to keep track of stories like this for my own safety, to educate myself further on the existence of racism in America, and to gain strength for my people.

I was extremely saddened to learn about the event that took place in South Carolina, where nine black church attendees lost their lives after a young white male sat in their prayer meeting for an hour before opening fire on the peaceful group of people.  I cried reading this story in my cubicle at work, because, what did these people do to deserve this? Sadly, this is a question Black Americans have had to ask ourselves a lot recently when following news stories to learn of more black deaths in our country. Before the South Carolina tragedy, we lost the lives of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and a more black lives that didn’t make the news. All of these innocent black men lost their lives due to pure ignorance, and nothing else. In the Walter Scott’s footage – and thank goodness for mobile recording technology because now police can be held accountable for wrongful treatment of any individual they handle – we saw the white cop try to create a false crime scene; tossing a weapon near Scott’s already dead, and unstirring body.  What gives?! I don’t not know.

The people in Ferguson and Baltimore lead peaceful protests and candlelight vigils after the loss of their community members, and unfortunately some protest activities turned into violence and riots. Violence is never the answer and Deray Mckesson framed the rioting in Baltimore the best in an on-air talk with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Blitzer, excuse me, CNN – because Blitzer was just their sacrificial lamb when it came to talking to the “angry black people” in Baltimore – seemed to be more worried about Baltimore property damage than the wrongful death of Gray. Blitzer kept pushing for Mckesson to say the violence wasn’t necessary, and in response Mckesson stated “There should be peaceful protests, but I don’t have to condone it to understand it, right? The pain that people feel is real.”

A good, white friend of mine – and it’s sad I need to even tell you his race, but in the hopes of promoting good interracial relations, there you go – asked me if the strides the gay community have made in recent years can be linked to the stand the black community is taking in the face of all the recent negativity and deaths. This is was interesting to me. I’m black, gay, and from Alaska. I was always aware of race issues when I was growing up, but I never really faced any racism until I moved to Indiana. There have only been a couple non-violent instances when it comes to my experience with racism, and I am definitely more aware than I ever was when I lived in Alaska. When I think about there being a link between the success the gay community has seen in their fight for equality, and the black community’s current fight, I think there are similarities and differences.

There were major strides made in the original civil rights movement between the years of 1954 and 1968. Things were made fair(ish), everyone could move on with their lives, everyone could be somewhat comfortable; and I use that term loosely. The gay community was different in the sense that most people in this community remained in the closet and watched silently as the AIDS crisis played out across the nation. Now, don’t take that the wrong way. There were a good number of people who were out, proud, and fought for equal rights for the gay community, however, there were many who were afraid to join the fight, and for good reasons. The gay movement’s fight was slow, steady, and has finally reached a point where people can have open conversations regarding gay-straight relations across many platforms and topics.  We, as a nation, are JUST now attempting to have an open – and ongoing – dialogue on the topic of black and white relations; any color and white relations, really.  Show’s like ABC’s Black-ish do an incredible job illustrating everyday situations between black, white, and other races in today’s society.

It’s extremely easy to be ignorant and afraid of the unfamiliar. Being gay has always been a huge stigma in the traditional Black American family, and I know this because it took my own father eight years to say, out loud, that he had a problem with me being gay. My dad met my husband last summer when we visited Alaska, and things went really well, and quite honestly, it shocked the hell out of me. I have an uncle who is gay, and I’m still not one-hundred percent sure that side of the family has dealt with it openly. When I think back on S meeting my dad, I have to wonder if Black Americans can draw some inspiration from the gay community, and start sparking smart, honest, and real conversations with people of all colors.

Equality is a work in progress, and I feel that it’s something that will always be under construction, but it is with communication that we, Black Americans, can invite others into our world, and grow together.  The presence of video technology, the internet, and the ability to share what’s going on in any given area of the country – sharing events like the McKinney pool party incident – should be used as tools for learning for those who respond inappropriately to a situation. The journey through race relations has never been easy, and won’t get any easier, but the fact that people are talking about these problems is a great start. Not all black people hate white people. Not all black people hate gay people. Not all (insert community, race, gender, etc) hate (insert community, race, gender, etc). So what now? Let’s give this an honest try, and fix this.