Lil Nas X stands on stage holding a black sparkly mic in a one sleeve diamond encrusted see-thru crop top exposing his abs and Black pants
Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Opinion: Lil Nas X Has A Right To Be Mad

We need to talk about homophobia in the Black community

Culture & Entertainment

BET just released the 2022 BET Awards nominations and Lil Nas X is nowhere on the list, while the white rapper Jack Harlow is up for Best Male Hip Hop Artist.

Lil Nas X is arguably the biggest star of the last three years. Between having a 16-time platinum-selling record, the longest running number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 and the most talked about music video of the last half decade, it’s safe to say that he IS the moment.

Even BET has recognized his positioning in recent times, nominating him for an award in 2020 and having him perform in 2021, causing one of the most talked-about moments of the award ceremony when he passionately kissed his male background dancer at the end of the performance. Lil Nas X has continued to rise since then, releasing a critically and commercially successful debut album Montero in 2021. Instead of acknowledging that success, BET opted to nominate the white guy whose monumental rise began with a feature on Lil Nas X’s third Billboard Hot 100 number one song, “Industry Baby.”

This is no disrespect to Jack Harlow either. He’s had a phenomenal year and none of this is technically his fault, but it’s hard to see the snubbing of one of the biggest artists–let alone one of the biggest Black queer artists– as anything but a slap in the face.

Lil Nas X said as much on Twitter when he called out BET’s snubs. “[H]ow can [I] get acknowledged by the most acclaimed award show in the world [the Grammys] and then not even just 1 nomination from my own people? [I]s that not crazy?”

When others responded that BET has celebrated queer artists Frank Ocean and Tyler the Creator, he shared, “Can we admit queer men are more respected when they do less feminine things or am [I] making that up?”

It’s a tale we know too well and is indicative of the way the majority of the mainstream Black community sees Black Queer people: You’re unworthy unless you tone down the “gay shit.”

Even as he was being gaslit with Twitter responses pointing to a myriad of nonsensical reasons for why he was not being celebrated at BET, Lil Nas X stood firm.

“[T]his not over no [BET] award this is about the bigger problem of homophobia in the [B]lack community, y’all can sit and pretend all u want but imma risk it all for us,” he Tweeted.

There is a well-documented culture of homophobia and queerphobia in Black mainstream spaces. BET and Viacom were hit with a lawsuit from trans media personality B. Scott in 2013 for workplace discrimination after B. Scott was told that they weren’t dressed “masculine” enough to host the red carpet at the 2013 BET Awards and was forced to change their clothes. Scott ended up settling out of court and is now the host of BET’s Twenties After Show with B. Scott.

In 2020, the NAACP Image Awards (also aired on BET) received backlash for nominating Meghan McCain, who has openly spewed anti-Black sentiments on The View, instead of recognizing any of the five Black and brown trans stars of the historic FX series Pose. The NAACP has also awarded actress Gina Rodriguez multiple NAACP Image awards despite her usage of the N-word online in 2019. Morning radio show The Breakfast Club has a long history of mistreating multiple Black queer guests, as does podcaster Joe Budden, whose latest offense is the abominations that he called “questions” that he asked sexually fluid rapper Isaiah Rashad during their sit down interview. Black mainstream platforms have consistently proven to be unsafe places for the Black LGBTQ community.

At the root of homophobia is white supremacy and when mainstream Black platforms deny Black queer people access to these spaces, they are upholding that racist framework. Allowing white and non Black people— especially those who have been anti-Black— to permeate spaces meant to uplift Black folks, creates a false sense of proximity to whiteness. Homophobia, much like racism, is a learned behavior, not an instinctive one. The idea that being queer is “wrong” comes from generations of instilling those beliefs in our ancestors through white interpretations of Christianity which were then passed down for generations in the Black community. Homophobia is so deeply ingrained in our community that we’ve completely forgotten the fact that it wasn’t an African belief to begin with. This is why its pervasiveness is so confusing.

This belief in heteronormativity is in every fabric of our community, our discourse, our award shows and our platforms, despite the Black community claiming to be making attempts at dismantling white supremacy by building and servicing our own. To be homophobic is to simultaneously be anti-Black. To prioritize white and non-Black people over Black queer people is anti-Black.

Still, Lil Nas X is taking the controversy and turning it into dollar signs for himself. In response to the snub, the star has released a snippet of a BET diss track with rapper NBA Youngboy, aptly titled “Late to Da Party”: “Everything I do, bitch right or wrong, gon’ make a profit,” he raps.

BET responded to the snub backlash in a statement: “We love Lil Nas X. He was nominated for a Best New Artist BET Award in 2020, and we proudly showcased his extraordinary talent and creativity on the show twice: he performed “Old Town Road” with Billy Ray Cyrus at “BET Awards” 2019 and his “BET Awards” 2021 performance was a highlight of our show. No one cheered louder that night than BET.

“Unfortunately, this year, he was not nominated by BET’s Voting Academy, which is comprised of an esteemed group of nearly 500 entertainment professionals in the fields of music, television, film, digital marketing, sports journalism, public relations, influencers, and creative arts. No one from BET serves as a member of the Voting Academy.”

Black queer folks are no longer seeking out the acceptance of the mainstream Black community and Black platforms. And while we're still being blocked from accessing some spaces in a large capacity, we still have the talent and the capabilities to make shit shake. As Lil Nas X has shown, despite the disrespect, Black queer people will continue taking up space, whether they give it to us willingly or we have to snatch it from homophobic hands.

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Pablo the Don is a guest writer.

8 Kinds Of Sex Every Couple Should Have In Their Rotation

When it comes to sex, you can never have too many tricks up your sleeve. A long-term relationship can quickly become boring, and nothing kills desire faster than boredom. When people get comfortable in long-term relationships, they often lose their spark. Relationships are like monthly subscription services. You get the first month for free, but after that, you have to actually start investing in order to continue to reap the benefits.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.
'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' Reminds Us That Angela Bassett Is Still Owed An Oscar

In a world much fairer than the one we currently occupy, Angela Bassett shelves would be adorned with multiple Oscars. While watching the latest installment of the Black Panther franchise, I was reminded of the sheer brilliance and excellence of the actress who has blessed audiences with her boundless talents for over three decades now. I wasn’t the only one captivated by Bassett’s performance, with some people even going as far as to suggest that Bassett might garner award recognition for the role.

Keep reading...Show less
The Best Healing Rituals For You Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Healing rituals are key to thriving in this human experience. If you are not regulating your emotions, taking the time to process, and giving your spirit time to renew and heal, then you are often carrying emotional heaviness from one experience to the next. Healing rituals are a way to give your mind, body, and soul the attention it needs and craves, and to put yourself in a better position to live your best life. When you take the time to heal within, positive transformations occur without.

Keep reading...Show less

The holidays are widely known as a time for celebration. It is a time when many people gather together to engage in community, cultivate connection and experience the joy of togetherness. Hallmark movies play on most TV screens and the dinner table is spread to serve people in abundance. A season that is often widely known for joy, can simultaneously be a season of grief for many. There are folks who will go through this holiday season with someone they love missing from the dinner table. A stocking that would usually be found hanging over the fireplace will be out of sight. No one talks about the heaviness of death and loss during the holidays.

Keep reading...Show less
5 Things You Should Consider Before Moving Abroad

Have you considered moving abroad? In 2021, I started life as a digital nomad. A "digital nomad" is a phrase that came to popularity due to the pandemic and it describes a person who lives a location-independent lifestyle. Since I started working and traveling simultaneously, I've traveled to Mexico, London, Dubai, and the Caribbean. According to a report by Upwork, 22% of the American workforce will be remote workers by 2025 — thus giving more people than ever the opportunity to live and work abroad.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts