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Lil Nas X shook the Internet when he came out on the last day of Pride Month and now he’s opening up to Time about how he never initially planned to identify his sexuality to the world.

“I never would have done that if I wasn’t in a way pushed by the universe,” he told the magazine, explaining that he had been taught from a young age homosexuality “is never going to be O.K.”

Pride celebrations—”seeing Pride flags everywhere and seeing couples holding hands”—encouraged him to reveal his own truth, he said.  After coming out to his father and sister earlier in June, the “Old Town Road” singer and now longest-running No. 1 song record-holder, opened up to his Twitter followers.

In a series of tweets, the 20-year-old breakout star urged fans to “listen closely” to his song “C7osure”—drawing attention to lyrics like, “Ain’t no more actin’, man, that forecast say I should just let me grow,” and, “True say, I want and I need / To let go, use my time to be free.” He then pointed out the rainbow on his album cover (which we now know to be a nod to the Pride flag) coyly suggesting he’d “made it obvious.”

Lil Nas X’s coming out was a big deal for a lot of reasons. To start, there are very few openly queer men in hip-hop—a culture with a deeply-rooted problematic attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community that, while improving, is still less than accepting. There also aren’t many black artists in country music—a reality Nas had to face when “Old Town Road” was removed from the Billboard country charts for not fitting into conventions set by the historically exclusionary genre.

 

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In his cover story, the artist revealed that he feared coming out would cost him fans. “I know the people who listen to this the most, and they’re not accepting of homosexuality,” he said.

While he did experience some backlash, the dominant response was one of love and support. Since, playful expressions of his sexuality have been incorporated into his beloved (and witty AF) Twitter material.

“Everything lined up for this moment to take me to this place,” he added about his fast rise to fame. “Not to sound self-centered, but it feels like I’m chosen, in a way, to do this stuff.”

It’s encouraging to see artists like Lil Nas X unapologetically being themselves and there’s hope that his story will give future stars the courage to do the same.