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Lil Nas X was honored at the Native Son Awards, where he described coming out of the closet as one of the “scariest moments” of his life.
The phenom revealed that he’s gay in June 2019, just as his mega-hit “Old Town Road” was hitting the peak of its popularity.
“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,” he said.
Out TV and film producer Lena Waithe presented him with the award and acknowledged his accolades, including becoming the first openly gay artist to win a CMA Award.
“He’s helping shift hearts and minds by breaking down decades of stigma between two traditional marginalized groups… he’s now allowing queer black kids everywhere to feel seen and know that anything is possible. The world needs that, and the world needs him,” Waithe said.
Lil Nas X promised to continue to open doors for black queer men in his acceptance speech.
“Some people say I am pushing an agenda, and I am. It’s called liberation,” he said. “There’s no road map when you’re the first to break a barrier, and I hope that one day it’s no longer groundbreaking for queer artists to find mainstream success…. Until that day comes, there’s work to do and I will continue to do my part.”
The star first revealed his sexuality in a tweet reading in part, “some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone [support me] no more.”
New York mayoral candidate Ray McGuire and his wife Crystal McCrary McGuire were honorary co-chairs for the event. Steven Canals, Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, Alphonso David, Bill Carson and MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart were also honored.
The annual Native Son Awards “celebrates black gay and queer men who are mavericks in their profession, community, and the world,” according to the organization.
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