By David T. Valentin
The internet was ablaze this weekend after Lil Nas X, the wildly popular queer hip hop artist, dropped a “controversial” music video for his new single MONTERO (Call me By Your Name).
The music video features Lil Nas X dressed in a variety of colorfully amazing outfits going through what seems to be a queer reinterpretation of the downfall of Adam and Eve, being judged, and owning up to the sin. In the music video Lil Nas, who seems to be Eve, is tempted by the snake and makes love to it. The sin leads to Nas’ trial where he seems to be damned to hell. After stylishly riding down a pole straight to hell, Nas seduces Satan himself, kills him, and then crowns himself Satan.
Alongside the music video, Lil Nas X dropped a shoeline called “Satan Shoes.” The shoes have a sleek design, red trim at the bottom, and red stitching of the biblical verse Luke 10:18. From the zipper, a gold pentagram dangles. The verse reads, “I Beheld Satan as a lightning from heaven,” a verse that details the devil and sin being cast out from humanity and banished to hell.
For the religious and the puritanical sex negative, queer-hating Christians, the music video seems to be a clear bastardization of Biblical stories.
In a moment of crisis with millions unemployed, millions of people sick with the coronavirus and in need of help, politicians like Governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem, and political commentators like Candace Owens would rather focus on a queer man owning his sexuality and twerking on a CGI (totally not real) representation of Satan.
But for queer people around the world who have spent their whole life hearing religious institutions demonize them and tell them that they’re going to hell for who they are, the music video is a clear representation of queer liberation.
Rather than creating a vibrant, preachy, feel-good music video about fitting in as a queer black man, Lil Nas X recognizes that queer people will never fit in to a society that systemically excludes them and ignores the harsh, political history the queer community has gone through.
The music video embraces the themes of liberation, and rather than showing resistance to his sexuality, which eventually transforms to self-hatred for many queer children, he gives into his desires and his differences.
Between the vibrant, exaggerated costumes and expert level of pole dancing that Lil Nas X clearly worked his ass off to learn and perform, the music video interestingly creates a fun “what if?” moment for the book of Genesis. What if Eve, represented by Lil Nas X, gave into her sin? What if she owned that sin rather than being guilted into shame?
Grounded more in the real world, it asks the question what if queer children were encouraged to explore their sexuality the same way straight people do, with all the sex, awkward experimentation, and self-exploration without portraying queer folk as sexual deviants. Perhaps, like Lil Nas X becoming the ruler of hell, we would feel like powerful kings, queens, and rulers of our own self, our own future.
But at the end of the day, with everything going on in the world, why do people care about who lies with whom in bed?
Lil Nas X said it best:
if you’re interested in more of Lil Nas X’s thoughts and creative decisions about the Montero (Call Me by Your Name) music video, you can tune in here at 2:00 p.m. est. for an interview between Lil Nas X and King of Reads on YouTube.