Homophobia in the Media and the Reaction to the Lil Nas X Music Video

Kevin Callahan, Staff Writer

With the release of “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” by Lil Nas X, the music video, and more specifically the reaction it garnered, has sparked a conversation surrounding digital homophobia. 

The video retells the biblical story of Adam and Eve, and Lil Nas X portrayed a version of Eve. In one scene, Lil Nas X seduces Satan and then kills him, becoming the ruler of Hell. This moment particularly angered some members of the Christian community who claimed the video was “satanic propaganda.” The video also depicts Lil Nas X being banished from Heaven then being sent to Hell. This is what some Christians say is the consequence of sin.

Anetha Butler, an associate professor of religion at the University of Pennsylvania, stated that the video “pushes every button” for conservative Christians. Many of these conservative Christian arguments were quickly combated by both Lil Nas X himself and his supporters. 

Outside the interpretation of some in the Christian community, the video can also be interpreted as a way for queer people to take back power and to reclaim the condemnation they often experience. This is represented by Lil Nas X’s character ruling Hell. Many queer people have said that the video represents that they’d rather go to hell than live a lie.

According to Lil Nas X, the video was intended to mock and critique the way that some traditional Christians view homosexuality as a sin. Lil Nas X personally grew up in such a religious environment, which led to him battling his sexuality for years. 

In an interview with CBS This Morning, Lil Nas X told Gayle King that he thought his sexuality, deemed undesirable by his family, “would go away.” According to the singer, his experiences in the church influenced his approach to the music video.

Following the release of the video, Lil Nas X took to Twitter, where he released a statement about the video. The statement reads as a letter to his younger self, in which he discusses how they never “planned” on coming out, instead “dying with the secret.”

The artist hopes that his being openly and proudly gay will open doors for many other queer people. He also addressed the idea that many people will claim he’s pushing an agenda. Lil Nas X clarified that he is in fact pushing an agenda– that people should simply mind their own business and stop “dictating who [people] should be.” He then ended the tweet by sending love to his past self. 

Days after the video was released, Lil Nas X collaborated with Nike to create “Satan Shoes,” which also garnered harsh reaction from some Christians. More recently, Lil Nas X released a line of shirts. Both products are meant to troll the backlash from some conservatives, as well as capitalize off of the claims that the M”ontero” music video is both satanic propaganda and pushes the gay agenda. Given Lil Nas X’s response to criticism from some in the Christian community, both claims are inaccurate.

The controversy surrounding the video, and more specifically the backlash, has sparked a conversation that needs to be had. The claims that queer people are sinners, are immoral, and are unnatural need to questioned. The music video, which has over 142 million views, does so in such a way that hasn’t been done on such a large scale before. Moving forward, this discussion needs to continue in order for substantial change to occur within our culture both online as well as in person.