Lil Nas X says wearing a skirt on tour is a full circle moment: ‘I was setting my younger self free’

Lil Nas X knows the power of representation.

The rapper and singer, 23, has come a long way since his 2019 hit “Old Town Road” became the longest-running No. 1 song in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with 19 consecutive weeks.

In just a few short years, the Atlanta native has used his platform to break down stereotypes and to elevate Black queer visibility. If you ask him, however, stepping into his role as an LGBTQ icon has also changed him for the better.

"I'm less afraid to step out of my comfort zone," Nas, who’s birth name is Montero, recently told People magazine. "Lil Nas X is helping Montero become more himself. Music has made me much more confident."

The rapper came out as gay in the months following his debut, and since that time, he’s become a fashion staple known for his gender-bending and eclectic style. Still, even though his style choices come from a very genuine place, he admits he’s not immune to the insecurities that come with it — especially during a recent stop in his hometown, where he decided to wear a skirt on stage.

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 03: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Lil Nas X performs onstage during iHeartRadio 102.7 KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2021 presented by Capital One at The Forum on December 03, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)
The 23-year-old rapper, seen here performing during iHeartRadio 102.7 KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2021, says wearing a skirt on stage has been a healing experience for him. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)

"I was really nervous about going out on stage in front of my family and everybody in my cute, little Coach skirt," he said. "But as soon as I walked out, I felt like I was setting my younger self free. Afterwards, my family — a lot of whom used to believe in everything opposite to what's up on that stage — told me they were really proud. I feel like I'm changing some minds."

"Style is a form of self-expression," he later explained. "It's a way to show people who you are, or at least how you want them to perceive you. I feel like to get further in life, you have to shed skins and do things that you normally wouldn't."

Nas also touched on his quest for self-love through fashion in Coach's latest "Courage to Be Real" campaign video, in which the rapper speaks candidly about his journey from the Atlanta suburbs to becoming the superstar he is today.

"I really wanted to make sure they were going to show me breaking down doors — so, in the video, I literally go through them," he said of the campaign. "I'm really happy with how it came out."

In a statement released after the launch of the video, Nas elaborated further on what an opportunity like this means for people like him.

“My whole career has been about breaking down doors, and this campaign represents everything I’ve overcome so far,” the rapper said at the time. “It’s about walking into new chapters of life, new experiences and new versions of myself, and it’s rooted in authenticity and self-expression — two things I really care about.”

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