Lil Nas X is the cover subject of the Pride issue of Entertainment Weekly on the heels of his biggest year yet and and tells x Ira Madison III: “I’m thankful. But it also feels good to prove people wrong. It’s one of my driving forces.”
He says his new power comes with at least one setback, and it has to do with meeting people and, you know, dating: “I’ve honestly gotten to this point where I’m just like, okay, I hope this person actually likes me for me [and] isn’t trying to use me as a stepping stone. I’ve just got to a point where it’s like well, even if they are [using me], then that’s a lesson learned. I can’t just stop meeting people because of this fear.”
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Still Nas says that in the midst of being admonished by right-wing organizations — and hearing actual church congregations devote time to a video where he twerks and pops on the devil’s lap — Nas has felt a swell of genuine support and love. “Once you show the world more of yourself,” he says, “they can relate more.” Indeed, Lil Nas X is done tiptoeing around how to act in public. “Looking back on history, the biggest icons, the biggest artists, are the ones who aren’t trying to always make everybody happy and who were doing themselves. I hope to do that at all times.”
That’s a message he wishes to convey to his fans, particularly the young queer ones who look up to him — the ones who tell him that he’s inspired them to come out to their family and friends. “I want to be a voice for those who pretend to be themselves, but aren’t quite there yet.” Does that mean Nas is now finally showing the real version of himself to the world? He looks down at the long white acrylics on his nails and laughs, saying he doesn’t always have the urge to wear some of his more wild looks. “It’s not like, ‘Oh God, I have to wear this,'” he says. “But I don’t mind.” And if he’s inspiring others to be their authentic selves, then what’s the harm in a little pretending?