Lil Nas X said he was terrified when he publicly came out in 2019 because of his upbringing and the homophobia he said he saw in the music industry.
The "Industry Baby" singer recently chatted with Out magazine and recalled the self-hatred he internalized when growing up in the South.
"Growing up in the Atlanta area, I [saw] a lot of microaggressions towards homosexuality," Lil Nas X explained. The Grammy winner said that because of his experiences, he began "pushing that part of myself in more and more, almost convincing myself that it’s not even actually there."
The 22-year-old said the rap genre also fosters a sense of hyper-masculinity, a mold he said he tried to fit but found the burden too much to bear.
"Mentally, it’s really draining and straining sometimes," he said. "The pressure of living your entire life knowing the identity of what a rapper is supposed to be, what rappers [are supposed to] do, and going out there in front of all these people, it’s terrifying."
Since coming out, Lil Nas X said he's been trying to make space in the industry for more gay artists of color.
"[The BET performance] was like jumping in a lake full of sharks and piranhas -- and I’ve had to do that so many times within these last three years," he said. "Even coming out, that was terrifying."
How he finds the courage to press ahead, Lil Nas X said: "It takes you back in time, watching somebody else’s experience." He added that he hopes to inspire more LGBTQ+ youth to embrace themselves by him being out and proud.