“What does it mean to come out of the closet?” This question was posed to openly gay rapper Lil Nas X by child actor Dilan Patton in a recent episode of the YouTube show “Arts and Raps.”
The Grammy-winning musician had a simplified answer.
"It means you’re like, 'Hey everybody, I’m this thing, and you guys didn’t even know that, but now you know,'" he said.
Co-host Zaria Kelley was quick with a follow-up question, asking the "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)" and "Old Town Road" singer, “Why are people in the closet in the first place?”
“Once we tell somebody we’re this thing or that thing, their mind shifts completely, and it doesn’t matter how close you are to them,” Lil Nas X, who came out as gay in 2019, responded.
Patton followed up with his own unintentionally comical “closet story” about how he and his cousin pushed Patton’s brother literally in the closet and convinced him that he saw a demonic spirit.
Holding back laughter, Lil Nas X jokingly said, “That’s exactly what happened to me. … That’s exactly what I meant when I said I was coming out of the closet.”
Later in the nine-minute episode, as the co-hosts continued to paint portraits of their special guest, Kelley asked the rapper what it means to be “unapologetically you.”
“It means just doing yourself at all costs, no matter who’s watching,” he said. “It gets really hard, because everybody in the world, we always think about what everybody else is thinking about us. Sometimes we forget to think about what we think about ourselves, you know?”
Kelley responded by telling Lil Nas X that he “really inspired” her because “you’re not afraid to be you.”
The bestselling children’s book author, however, was not always so comfortable in his own skin. In response to criticism from the Christian right over his new Satan-themed music video for “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” Lil Nas X took aim at religious conservatives for the anti-gay messaging he was subjected to as a teen.
"i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the shit y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay," he wrote on Twitter last month. "so i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves."