Lil Nas X Didn't Think He Would 'Ever' Come Out — but Felt as Though It Was His 'Duty'

Lil Nas X came out as gay in June 2019

Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty

Lil Nas X never imagined he'd have the platform he does as a successful, gay, Black hip-hop artist — but now that the world is watching, he's making the most of it.

The "Industry Baby" singer, 22, opened up to XXL about how his burgeoning success pushed him to be open about his sexuality, something he thought he'd keep hidden for good.

"I don't think I would have ever came out," he said. "I honestly felt like it was kind of my duty. Especially if I wanted to move forward. And what I was doing, because authenticity is very real, and I feel like people can see right through that. And that's a part of me."

Lil Nas X — who recently celebrated the "birth" of his debut album Montero with an over-the-top pregnancy announcement — said that for a while, he was insecure in his sexuality because he was afraid of how people would judge him for "how [he] would act post-coming out."

RELATED VIDEO: Lil Nas X Gives Birth to First-Ever Studio Album in Delivery Video: 'Baby Montero Is Here!'

"I used to 'like' comments where people were like, 'Oh, I like him, because he's not all in your face about it,'" he recalled. "And then I realized what that was. It's kind of like when people say, 'Oh, I have a Black friend,' and that sits on everything that have to do with their Black history and culture, whatnot. I'm like, I'm not that person, you know?"

The star, born Montero Lamar Hill, previously told PEOPLE that two years ago, he wouldn't have been able to be as open as he was on his single "Sun Goes Down," which sees him reflect on coming to terms with his sexuality.

"To be 100 percent honest, I didn't want to do that song at first," he said. "I guess it was because I've never done something so personal. I was scared to let people see my vulnerability, because I didn't want them to use it against me."

"But when I released the song, I got messages from people telling me that it saved their life," he continued. "It doesn't feel real quite yet."

Lil Nas X told XXL that despite feeling like something of an outsider in the industry, he's now content embracing his role as a trailblazer.

"Honestly, I don't feel as respected in hip-hop or many music places in general," he said. "But these are communities that I am a part of, whether people would like it or not. This is something that I wanted to do because, not that my entire album is rap, but there are rap tracks on my album. I am a rapper. I am a pop star. I am a gay artist. But it's like, I belong in these places, you know?"

His openness has been praised by stars like Kid Cudi, who recently wrote in a tribute for Time's 100 most influential people of 2021 that the star was going to break down the "homophobic cloud over hip-hop."

"The way he's unafraid to make people uncomfortable is so rock 'n' roll," Kid Cudi wrote. "He's a true rock star."

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