Dancing with the Devil

Lil Nas X’s new song “Montero” sparks controversy.


Owen Longstreth, Staff Writer

Two minutes into” Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” Lil Nas X slides down a stripper pole into Hell, before giving the Devil a lap dance. It is a song and music video that is either a strong example of LGBTQ+ people embracing their identity, or an immoral performance with Satanist undertones — and overtones too —.
Either way, in a nation embroiled in culture wars, the release of “Montero” has proven to be the latest in a series of conflicts pitting religious conservatives against the LGBTQ+ community and those with more progressive social views.

He’s here, he’s proud, and that homophobia will no longer affect him

Palo Alto High School senior Aaron Villanueva — who identifies as an Apostolic Christian — is not pleased with the new video. “To me, [Montero] is distasteful,” Villanueva said. “I think at the end of the day, it gives the LGBTQ+ community a bad image to a lot of people who hold their Christian faith really close.”
Villanueva also expressed concern about children watching the “Montero” video because of the popularity of “Old Town Road” — Lil Nas X’s claim to fame — but he did note that: “At the end of the day, parents have to monitor what their kids are watching.”

A Paly student who spoke with Anthro on the condition of anonymity disagrees with the backlash and thinks the song has a positive message to LGBTQ+ youth.
“The end of the video is him saying that he’s here, he’s proud, and that homophobia will no longer affect him,” the student stated in an email to Anthro on May 1.
In particular, Lil Nas X killing the Devil in the end of the video is significant, according to the student.

“It shows queer kids that they can reach a point in their lives where they are accepting of themselves and it shows them that they are powerful,” the student stated.
This theme of acceptance also resonated with the student on a personal level. “I know that for me personally, coming to terms with my gender identity took many years, and I can’t imagine what that must be like if you’re in an unaccepting environment,” the student stated.

Beyond Paly, the controversy around the song falls along similar boundaries to previous social issues. Pastor Greg Locke of The Global Vision Bible Church in Juliet, Tennessee, a supporter of former president Donald Trump, described the song as “a bunch of devil-worshipping wicked nonsense” to his congregation on March 28, according to a video posted on Twitter by Right Wing Watch — a group that monitors the American far-right —.

Lil Nas X has doubled down on his song following its release. On March 25, when the song was released, he also tweeted out a letter to his 14-year-old self where he talked about keeping his sexuality a secret. “I know we promised to die with this secret, but it [Montero] will open doors for so many other queer people to simply exist” he stated.

While most of the controversy around “Montero” has died down, it has proven to be a particularly divisive episode in the culture wars, and one that has led to more digging in on each side. But for Lil Nas X, the takeaway is clear. “They will say I’m pushing an agenda,” he said in the aforementioned letter. “But the truth is, I am. The agenda to make people stay the f— out of other people’s lives.”