Lil Nas X doesn't regret coming out even though he says it was an act he feared.
The “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)" rapper and singer recalled the time he came out publicly as gay in the summer of 2019 while accepting the Native Son award, an honor that recognizes Black gay and queer male leaders, in a virtual ceremony that was streamed on Facebook.
"When I came out two years ago, it was one of the scariest moments of my life," the 22-year-said in his award acceptance speech Friday. "I was afraid because I knew the world was watching, and all I ever saw for boys like me was judgment and ridicule, but it was because the world was watching that I knew I had to stand in my truth.
"Far too many of our youth are struggling to find acceptance," he continued. "We are taught to hate ourselves for who we are and we are punished for living openly and proudly. I made the decision to be myself and open doors for the rest of my life."
Lil Nas X also addressed critics who have not been supportive following his decision to go public with his identity, even thanking them in his speech.
"Some people say, I'm pushing an agenda, and I am: it's called liberation. There is no roadmap, when you're the person breaking the barrier, and I hope that one day it's no longer groundbreaking for queer artists to find mainstream success or win major awards. Until that day comes, there's work to do, and I will continue to do my part.
"Thank you to my family, my friends, my team, all of my supporters, my haters, and most importantly my fans for keeping me focused on what my mission is. Thank you to Native Son, and Emil for this honor," he concluded, referring to Emil Wilbekin, the former editor-in-chief of Vibe magazine who founded the Native Son platform in 2016.
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This isn't the first time the "Old Town Road" singer opened up about coming out. In March, the CMA winner posted a tweet with a letter to his 14-year-old self where he got candid about his decision.
"i know we promised to never come out publicly, i know we promised to never be ‘that’ type of gay person, i know we promised to die with the secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist," he wrote in part.
"you see this is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say i’m pushing an agenda,” he continued. “but the truth is, i am. the agenda to make people stay the f--- out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be. sending you love from the future.”
Writer, producer and actor Lena Waithe, who presented the Native Son award to Lil Nas X, spoke highly of the young artist in her introduction. "He is truly changing the world by just being himself and speaking his truth with such an authenticity that is infectious. Nas moves through life with the courage, bravery and fearlessness that cannot be matched and the world continues to be sucked in by his gravitational pull."
Fans can catch Lil Nas X as he makes his debut as the musical guest in the season 46 finale of "Saturday Night Live" this weekend, which also features "The Queen's Gambit" star Anya Taylor-Joy as host.