Lil Nas X Is Normalising Gay Sex In ‘MONTERO’

BY ALISON WRIGHT

After watching the music video for Lil Nas X’s latest release, ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’ I had to take a quick scroll through the comments. 

“I feel like I missed 2 seasons from Old Town Road”, reads the top comment by user ‘soldiers’.

It’s a pretty accurate summation. The Alice-in-Wonderland wasteland that the music video is set in is a far cry from the suburban streets of ‘Old Town Road’.

‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’ comes as a tease for Nas’ album, due for release later this year.

In the music video, dropped on March 26, Nas plays plays literally every character from major scenes in Christian religious history, with insane levels of detail.

It starts in the Garden of Eden, where ‘Adam’ is tempted by an other-worldly, evil snake. There, on the Tree of Life, is inscribed a quote from Plato’s Symposium that reads: “After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half”.  

Plato, the Greek philosopher he was, suggested that humans were originally joined with their soulmates but were punished and split up by the Gods. As such, humans are cursed to spend their lives looking for their ‘other halves’.

This idea is underscored by pretty much ever film in history but, notably, the 2017 groundbreaking queer romance film Call Me By Your Name. That’s where Lil Nas X got the inspiration for the song title and dedication – Montero Lamar Hill is Nas real name, and is the “lover” who the song is dedicated to.

Public Backlash: Twerking On Demons Or Just Queerness?

Despite this attention to detail and explosion of creative license, the music video drew plenty of criticism from religious communities (particularly Christians). But there was one scene in particular that drew huge backlash: the climax, where Lil Nas X has descended to hell and is giving Satan a lap dance in his bedazzled(?) studded(?) underwear.

Right-wing conservatives on Twitter have criticised the clip, claiming it promotes devil worship and adult themes to the young audience he garnered from ‘Old Town Road’. 

Yet, having examined their complaints, it’s a little unclear exactly what they’re advocating against. For the most part, Christian fundamentalists aren’t fans of Satan, or gay people, right? What’s the big deal? If he had twerked on another religious figure – say, a ‘good’ character – wouldn’t that be more offensive?

I have a feeling that what the critics don’t want to admit is that it’s not the twerking-on-demons part they take offence to, but the queerness of it.

Lil Nas X’s video has pushed queerness and queer sexuality to centre stage. And not only does he discuss same-sex attraction, but delves into his own sexual activities.

When speaking to Genius about his late 2020 single ‘Holiday’, Lil Nas X expressed hesitation on including the line “I might bottom on the low but I top shit” – this was the first time he had mentioned gay relationships in his music. But the growth in ‘MONTERO’ is evident; now, he is absolutely shameless as he belts he’ll “shoot a child in your mouth while I’m riding.”

Lil Nas X has spoken about his intent to normalise these sorts of lines, “the same way someone might talk about f***ing a girl or f***ing a guy”.

‘MONTERO’ is arguably one of the (if not the) first notable examples of same-sex relationships being featured in a pop song. One that’s topped the charts in multiple countries, dominated streaming, and raced up millions of YouTube views.

And although some fundamentalist Christians on Twitter may get mad about it, there are so many more who are here for it. Either way, I think we should all be glad that he’s done releasing remixes to ‘Old Town Road’.