When Madonna shared a same-sex smooch with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, it was a sensation, but when openly gay pop singer Adam Lambert enjoyed a similar moment with a male band member at the 2009 American Music Awards, it caused a backlash that nearly derailed his career. Years later, Lambert discussed these “double standards” with Yahoo Entertainment and said he believed that pop had since become “an entirely different landscape. … Now we have out artists that are finding total commercial success. Like me kissing a guy on the f***ing AMAs was like, such a scandal, and I really don’t think it would be now.”
That societal progress was evident Sunday — during the final weekend of Pride Month — at the BET Awards, when Lil Nas X ended his fiery performance of the homoerotic hit “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” by passionately kissing one of his male backup dancers. In 2021, this move was met not with scorn but with delight, as Nas's fearlessness was widely celebrated on social media. Hip-hop mogul Sean Combs was one of the many Lil Nas X fans who tweeted his support, leaving Nas himself in awe.
— nope 🏹 (@LilNasX) June 28, 2021
Lil Nas X came out on the last day of Pride Month in 2019, an especially brave announcement considering that he was still riding high from the groundbreaking chart success of his country/hip-hop crossover smash “Old Town Road,” and both the country and hip-hop fanbases have been historically conservative when it comes to homosexuality. But the reaction on Twitter at that time was largely positive and encouraging, and the now-22-year-old Atlanta singer and rapper has been pushing the envelope ever since — most notably this year with his controversial “Montero” music video, which depicted him being cast out of the Garden of Eden, riding a stripper pole to Hell, and giving Satan a lapdance.
This Sunday, Nas walked the BETs’ red carpet in not one but two drop-dead-gorgeous lewks — a corseted ballgown and a floral bellbottomed suit — and then hit the Microsoft Theater stage in yet another wardrobe change, rocking a skimpy gold pharaoh costume for an Egyptian-themed number inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” video. After he capped off his daring performance by lustfully making out with the above-mentioned shirtless dancer, Nas received a standing ovation, while Twitter exploded with praise for this landmark moment of Black LGBTQ+ representation.
LOOK HOW FAR WE’VE COME!!!
YESSSS @LilNasX!!!!! THAT KISS AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!!!!!!!! #BETAwardspic.twitter.com/yMr80LZ9kc
— M. L. (@untrell92) June 28, 2021
Me, watching Lil Nas X make-out with another black man on national TV during Pride month pic.twitter.com/TKX7AO6mAy
— The Casual Sex Captain (@jiggyjayy2) June 28, 2021
Lil Nas X swallowed that young brotha’s whole tongue on live TV. I love that for him. #BETAwards
— April (@ReignOfApril) June 28, 2021
Lil Nas X full on made out with that man, he bold as hell fr #BETAwardspic.twitter.com/sHRsXysQbi
— 🙂 (@MysticNaii) June 28, 2021
That Lil Nas X performance was definitely performance of the night. A pop culture moment. #BETAwardspic.twitter.com/irGaZw4TsY
— Wockesha 🧚🏾♂️ (@KareemRevived) June 28, 2021
Lil Nas X boutta make our elders hella uncomfortable and i just- #BETAwardspic.twitter.com/sVq0k5Ry73
— tiny sevenn ⁷ (@erosinlovee) June 28, 2021
Lil Nas X finna piss the homophobics off and I’m loving every moment of him making y’all sick #BETAwardspic.twitter.com/M6uB2344T7
— Nyla 💕 (@originalnylaa) June 28, 2021
Kudos to Lil Nas X for freakin out the homophobes with that kiss at the end of his performance! #BETAwardspic.twitter.com/5FswYhE8K3
— Will (@AXEtheMercenary) June 28, 2021
Lil Nas X is triggering the “I don’t eat bananas in public” crowd and I LOVE it.
— #1 SUPERMAN AND LOIS FAN IN LIFE (@VanLathan) June 28, 2021
Lil Nas X done kissed that man at the BET Awards AND on a Sunday… good for him. I know the homophobes are SCRAMBLING pic.twitter.com/ETcxweJ6Yc
— Icy Barb❄️ (@BRANMINAJ) June 28, 2021
Lil Nas X just kissed a man on the BET awards stage and paid tribute to Michael Jackson. Imma let y’all finish but he slayed that.
— You Told Harpo To Beat Me (@AsToldByCarl) June 28, 2021
Lil Nas X gave Britney 2003 VMAs with that kiss. Controversy queen.
— Muted. Argue with yourself. (@___inCANdescent) June 28, 2021
The 2021 BET Awards took place at Los Angeles’s Microsoft Theater on Sunday, June 27. In her acceptance speech for her lifetime achievement award, Queen Latifah also gave a shout-out to the LGBTQ+ community, declaring, “Happy Pride!” to huge applause.
Queen Latifah Lifetime Achievement #BETAwards Salutes the lgbtq community. Happy Pride 💜🌈#LoveWinspic.twitter.com/o1W09DBMtB
— Nina Nicole Kapowski (@NinaNicoleShow) June 28, 2021
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
Full list of BET Awards winners
Pom Pom Squad’s Mia Berrin on her queer subversion of a high school trope: 'Cheerleaders were a symbol of everything that I couldn't be as a Black, Puerto Rican teenager'
Cub Sport and the greatest coming out story ever told: 'We were secretly in love, but running away from it'
'American Idol' star David Archuleta comes out as LGBTQIA+: 'I've tried for almost 20 years to try and change myself'
Joan Armatrading looks back on the 'Consequences' of her trailblazing 50-year career: 'There were very strong things about me that people had to get used to'
Tyler Glenn on his evolution and the return of Neon Trees: ‘Coming out of the church was almost personally harder for me than coming out as gay’
Soft Cell's Marc Almond recalls polarized reaction to 'Tainted Love': 'People wanted to either kill me, marry me or f*** me'
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