Lil Nas X attends the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, which was broadcast live on 27 May 2021. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)
Lil Nas X is adding another award to his packed mantle after The Trevor Project announced he has been named their suicide prevention advocate of the year.
The honour, announced Wednesday (1 September), is the LGBT+ suicide prevention organisation’s first time giving such an award – which is timely given that September is the start is national suicide prevention awareness month in the US.
The Trevor Project said in a statement that it wanted to highlight the importance of queer representation in the media, and the “powerful message of visibility and hope it sends to LGBTQ young people”.
The group cited Nas’ commitment to ending suicide among queer youth with “his openness about struggling with his sexuality and suicidal ideation, his continued advocacy around mental health issues and his unapologetic celebration of his queer identity”.
When accepting the award, Lil Nas X spoke out about how real “discrimination around sexuality and gender identity” is in the modern world and how the LGBT+ community deserves to feel “totally free to be themselves”.
“I often get messages from fans telling me about their struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts, and it made me realise that this was something bigger than myself,” Nas said.
“If using my voice and expressing myself in my music can help even one kid out there who feels alone, then it was all worth it.”
Amit Paley, CEO and executive director at the Trevor Project, said the “Old Town Road” performer’s “vulnerability in his journey to self-acceptance and expression” created a space for conversations around mental health and LGBT+ identities – which showed queer youth they aren’t alone.
In March, Lil Nas X dropped his unapologetically queer music video for his hit song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”. The now-infamous video was accompanied by a heart-wrenching letter the performer penned to his 14-year-old self.
In the letter, he explained that he “wrote a song with our name in it” which is “about a guy I met last summer”. The rapper said that “we promised to never come out publicly” and to “die with our secret”.
But he said coming out and be unapologetically himself will “open doors for many other queer people to simply exist”.
“You see this is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say I’m pushing an agenda,” Nas wrote. “But the truth is, I am. The agenda to make people stay the fuck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be.
A couple of months later, Lil Nas X released a music video for his song “Sun Goes Down” which depicts the performer uplifting a younger version of himself, who is struggling with loneliness and his identity.
Nas recalled in the tear-jerking song how he was “haunted” by “these gay thoughts” and prayed to God to “take it from me”.