There’s a lot that can be said about this new crop of hip-hop artists that we have that isn’t flattering.

You can question the quality of their lyrics, their ability to stay on beat and frankly their ability to even pronounce words intelligibly as mumble rap has proven.

But one thing you can’t accuse these millennial rappers of is being afraid of taking a stance and claiming their identity.

So in that vein, when Lil Nas X announced on the last day of LGBTQ Pride month that there was a deeper, rainbow-inspired meaning to his song “C7osure,” people were quick to applaud what they saw as a brave, bold move.

But was it really tho?

Lil Nas X Hints That He Might Be Team Rainbow

Let’s start with the tweet in question:

There’s nothing explicit in the tweet that says, “I’m gay” or “I’m bisexual” or “I’m queer.”

Lil Nas X uses hints and insinuations by saying “before the end of this month,” which many took to mean before PRIDE month is over, and using a rainbow emoji. But that’s it.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the lyrics on “C7osure” that he insists reveal more about him than people might have noticed on their first listen.

Ain’t no more actin’, man that forecast say I should just let me grow
No more red light for me, baby, only green, I gotta go
Pack my past up in the back, oh, let my future take ahold
This is what I gotta do, can’t be regrettin’ when I’m old

Again. While you certainly COULD put a gay narrative on that, there’s nothing explicitly homosexual about choosing to mature, be your authentic self and choosing to live life without regrets.

This isn’t like Frank Ocean’s “Bad Religion,” which was seen as his way of coming out as gay, bisexual or queer (Frank has never clarified which label he identifies with specifically), because Frank purposefully chose to use a masculine pronoun in that song to make his statement:

To me it’s nothing but a one-man cult
And cyanide in my Styrofoam cup
I can never make him love me
Never make him love me

Gay Rumors Spark Interest and Potentially Streams of “C7osure”

So if the Twitter post itself doesn’t explicitly have Lil Nas X saying he’s gay/bi/queer and the lyrics to the song he’s pointing us to don’t, then why is Lil Nas X fanning the flames of this assumption and encouraging people to THINK he’s gay?

Easy: Because Lil Nas X is a master manipulator of internet culture.

Remember: “Old Town Road” is an earworm that broke into pop culture by hacking its way through Tik Tok and meme culture.

He also, according to internet sleuths, has a long history of trolling on the internet when he was Nasmaraj, a devoted and provocateur Nicki Minaj fan.

So when it comes to getting attention for himself through the internet, he’s a pro. Plus, he has a very transparent motivation: He wants to get enough streams for all of the tracks on his new EP 7 to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

This post, where he thanks his fans and collaborators for helping him to land two charting songs, makes this ambition quite clear.

What better way is there to drive up streams for your song than by claiming that fans should take a closer listen to hear a deeper message that might have something to do with his sexuality?

The attention and press (this stunt was even written up by The New York Times) certainly helped give a lift to the lyrics for “C7osure” on Genius. The site said it’s seen an 8,000% increase in pageviews for the song’s lyrics.

So you can imagine the buzz had a similar effect on streams of the song.

Treating Homosexuality As a Gag is a Millennial Trope

If this reading of the situation seems harsh, take a look at the other responses Lil Nas X shared on his Twitter in regards to his supposed coming out.

Nearly every single one of them was a joke, with some of the “humor” veering uncomfortably into homophobic territory as it focused on his potentially being gay as meaning all of his songs would suddenly feature explicit, aggressive gay-sex lyrics.

Here’s one tweet of a fan asking if the cheating Lil Nas X sang about on “Old Town Road” was with a man, which Lil Nas X just cracks up over:

The real clincher that this supposed coming out likely wasn’t serious though is when Lil Nas X claimed that “just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I’m not straight.”

So yeah, this lil’ boy is playing games.

To be clear, he’s not the first. Young Thug does the same thing when he openly tells other men that he loves them and calls them his “hubby” or wears a dress for his mixtape cover.

Jaden Smith and Tyler the Creator have also pulled the same stunt, with Jaden screaming in concerts that Tyler is his boyfriend, despite no substantive evidence of this claim, which by the way was made and immediately followed by laughter and snickering.

So clearly, as stated before, this generation loves to use homosexuality or gender-bending to court attention and controversy.

In a way, their ability to feel comfortable with that is a progress for the LGBTQ community, because there was no way any R&B or hip-hop artist was intentionally flirting with being perceived as gay a decade or two ago.

But on the other hand, straight, hetero men using homosexuality or queerness as a tool to mock society and provoke incendiary reactions is problematic because it treats people’s identities as a Halloween costume.

Not to mention a straight person toying with the perception that they might be homosexual is a privilege that real gay people don’t have as they can’t just wave away the “I was just playing” thing like Lil Nas X, Tyler and Jaden can.

What do you think? Do you believe Lil Nas X’s supposed coming out of the closet is genuine or just a stunt to boost streams for his music?

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