Lil Nas X compares 'terrifying' BET Awards performance to 'jumping in a lake full of sharks'

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Lil Nas X is known for standing up to online trolls but he admits he isn't as fearless as he may seem.

The "Old Town Road" artist opened up about his controversial BET Awards performance in an Out Magazine interview published Tuesday. During the June show, Lil Nas X performed his song "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" on stage and sealed it with a kiss with one of his male dancers — a move that received a divided response.

Though he defended his decision to include the kiss, Lil Nas X admitted to initially questioning it and how it would be publicly received.

“Going to this place with all these overly masculine rappers and you’re finna be in there throwing a little (expletive)every now and then, touching on dudes and hugging them and kissing them … at some points I was like, ‘Should I even do this? I don’t feel like they’re going to love me like that,’ ” he said.

Lil Nas X, center, kisses a dancer at the conclusion of his BET Awards performance in June 2021.
Lil Nas X, center, kisses a dancer at the conclusion of his BET Awards performance in June 2021.

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He compared the "terrifying" performance at the BET Awards to "jumping in a lake full of sharks and piranhas."

"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," he said, adding that he also experienced similar feelings when publicly coming out as gay in 2019.

The unique pressures of being both Black and queer presented a chance for him to "break down those walls" at the BET Awards.

"(People always say) go where you’re accepted and stuff like that, but you can’t always just go where you’re accepted," he said. "You’ve got to go and break down those walls and say, ‘This is my space now too.’ "

The exposure to constant criticism fueled Lil Nas X to suppress feelings of self-doubt and embrace his sexuality with his performance, he explained.

“I was in rehearsals like, ‘Oh, my God. I have to do my absolute (expletive) best with this performance because of (expletive) like this,' " he recalled.

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In June, Lil Nas X took to Twitter to defend his "sexual" BET Awards performance, addressing critics who called it "inappropriate."

"y’all hate yourselves so much. y’all live your lives trying your best to appease straight ppl. y’all are uncomfortable with what i do because y’all are afraid they will be uncomfortable with you," he tweeted at the time. "work on yourselves, i love who i am and whatever i decide to do. get there."

He revealed in another tweet that his polarizing performance was nerve-wracking for him and took "a lot of time to mentally prepare" because he knew he was "performing something like that in front of my straight peers."

But he said, "if you don’t push yourself outside of your comfort zone you will never grow."

Singer Adam Lambert, who also had a same-sex kiss during the 2009 American Music Awards, praised Lil Nas X's performance, calling it "hot" during an interview with Billboard.

"He's really giving it to us. I think he is definitely like the gay pop star that is 2021 — he's bold, he's controversial, he's pushing boundaries," Lambert said at the time.

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Contributing: Elise Brisco, Cydney Henderson

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lil Nas X says controversial BET Awards kiss was 'terrifying'

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