After he released his incredibly gay song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” and its accompanying, trip-into-hell music video, Lil Nas X became the center of a culture war. Two writers at The Gay Goods absolutely needed to talk about it.
Clayton Kidd: So! It seems very possible that Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” is going to debut at #1 on the Hot 100 next week. On a scale of 1-666, how mad do you think the ministers of America are going to be if this becomes the most popular song in the country?
Jo Lean: Let’s be real here: Those ministers are locked in a utility closet with a keg of Jergens.
CK: Haha! I’m sure they are. I have been fascinated with the way “the culture” has responded to “Call Me By Your Name” and its Satan-themed, super-duper-gay music video. What’s your take on how the reactions have been bouncing around the internet?
JL: Well, this is wonderful for me, because so often the talk of the gay internet is like, Ryan Murphy or other such caucasity that I care about, but is sort of stretch for me. I like my gay news smelling of oil sheen and catfish grease.
CK: Excellent point: This is a gay man’s artwork, and it’s a gay Black man’s artwork.
JL: I think the takes from Black queers have been wonderful, pointing out the virulent hypocrisy of our parents and church leaders. I’ve based my entire art year around investigating this.
CK: How so?
JL: Well I’ve been listening to some of what I would consider the early pioneers of coming out. B. Slade, formerly known as Tonex, fought very publicly with himself and the Black church over his sexuality — ultimately leaving and making very, very horny and romantic songs about men.
CK: Annnnd… putting these songs immediately in my Spotify queue.
JL: Meanwhile, Kirk Franklin is also EVERYWHERE right now, a church leader and seemingly straight family man who went through conversion therapy. He is crossing over into the mainstream again.
CK: Yes! I’ve seen stories about Kirk Franklin condemning homophobia in the church. As a kid who grew up in the 90s — and grew up around Southern Baptists — I assumed the church could never be toppled. I assumed its homophobia was permanent. Tattoo status. And while I don’t think something like “Call Me By Your Name” could’ve been released at all in the ’90s, let alone reached No. 1, I’m glad that you mentioned B. Slade and artists like him. Because it’s important to remember that Lil Nas X didn’t invent radical queer music. Ma Rainey was arrested for singing about fucking women back in 1928. Sylvester was feeling mighty real in the ’70s. What is it, do you think, that’s getting folks so outraged this time? What is it about “Call Me By Your Name” that’s pushed an extra set of buttons?
JL: Well Nas was able to Trojan horse this thing. He was already beloved and sort of entrenched in the musical elite before he came out. So the insidious powers of homophobic record execs couldn’t put the kibosh on him like they do on so, so many queer artists the second they come out. Justice for MNEK!
JL: Oh, absolutely. My point being, they’re mad because they can’t stop him. It’s too far gone.
CK: Right! And I’ve seen SO MANY people suggesting that Lil Nas X was a children’s performer or something, and now he’s poisoning the babies’ minds. Which is another way of saying, “This homosexual was already popular, and he used the Internet so fast that we couldn’t eradicate him before he got gay in front of our kids.”
JL: Exactly. So sad! And he made such a great point. Something to the effect of, “Since we’re talking about kids, how about we free the ones in cages?”
CK: Which you’d think the church would care about.
JL: Christians are beyond me. I know we’re all hypocrites and small in our own ways, but literally the Bible says to feed the hungry and clothe the sick, and they turn around and build megachurches, buy cars, and rail against the Teletubbies.
There was a recent skirmish here in Los Angeles. Echo Park became a sort of encampment for the unhoused during the pandemic, as the city had misused or flat out not used federal money to house these folks. Mitch O’ Farrell — the white, gay city council rep for that area — ordered a sweep of the park, which kicked off two days of protests and police fights.
CK: Which… of course it did. Of course people protested.
JL: And there’s a megachurch RIGHT on the corner there. At no point did these people intervene on behalf of the sick or hungry or poor. They didn’t open their doors to these people, give them shelter or food. They just let the city drive them out, without a word, with the command coming from a white gay man. The levels of intersectional violence and hypocrisy. Painful! So… the church has no credibility on moral issues. Lol.