Lil Nas X’s “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)”
The Controversy Behind the New Song & Music Video
by Nikki Idelson ’22 A&E Staff
Within the world of popular music, Lil Nas X’s new song, “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” has been making headlines. The song has been all the rage for fans of Lil Nas X; however, it has also become an anthem for those who are part of or supporters of individuals who belong to the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, many people who do not support the LGBTQ+ community see the song as “sinful.”
To be clear, “MONTERO” has helped to create a platform for artists belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, a safe space to be able to share their own identities and stories through their music. Historically, music discussing love has mainly focused on heterosexual couples. It is clear that this song normalizes the discussion of same-sex couples within music and offers LGBTQ+ representation for fans who are members of the community.
Following the release of the song, Lil Nas X partnered with Genius to explain the meaning behind the lyrics. Lil Nas X shared that he wrote the song to talk about the feelings he started developing towards a friend. According to Genius, “The opening lines of the song…track the literal interaction he had with the guy.”
Throughout the song, Lil Nas X also incorporates lyrics that are considered to be openly sexual. Lil Nas X said that he did this in order “to be jarring, while also helping break a stigma around lyrics focused on queer lust.” He says that he wants to continue to make music that helps to bring a voice and representation to those within the LGBTQ+ community.
Furthermore, the music video for “MONTERO” in particular garnered widespread attention for its commentary on Christianity. It is clear that Lil Nas X incorporated religious elements into both the music video and song to criticize those who utilize specific passages within the Bible—a book that was written centuries ago when no one truly knew what it meant to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community—to make a case for why they believe that identifying as LGBTQ+ is sinful.
It is clear that releasing “MONTERO›› and its music video has not only helped to create a sense of freedom for Lil Nas X, but also for his fans. In an article that was published by NPR, associate professor of religious studies and African American and African studies at the University of Virginia, Ashon Crawley, talks about how growing up, he consistently felt fear due to the various preachers that he came into contact with, who led him to believe that identifying with the LGBTQ+ community was wrong and would result in him going to Hell. Commenting on the inclusion of the devil in the “MONTERO“ music video, Crawley writes, “In the end, he slays the devil, refuses to live with the myth. In so doing, he overcomes the power others receive by attempting to coerce him to fear.”
Crawley discusses how viewing Lil Nas X slay the devil in the music video, as well as listening to the song, has helped him accept his own identity and overcome the fear that comes with being LGBTQ+, especially in a society where a significant portion of the population views these identities as “wrong.” “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” and its music video have created a necessary platform for the LGBTQ+ community to voice their own narratives within popular music.