Lil Nas X is opening up about finding his true purpose and becoming his “full self.” The “Call Me By Your Name” artist covers the latest issue of Out magazine, and is getting candid about his highly public journey of self-discovery.

“Growing up in the Atlanta area, I [saw] a lot of microaggressions towards homosexuality,” Lil Nas X recalls in his interview with Out, while reflecting on his childhood and how he grew into who is is today. “Little things like going into an IHOP and hearing one of your family members say, ‘Look at those f*****s’ to two people eating or even just a small [statement like] ‘Boys don’t cry.’ Little s**t like living in the hood, not being super into sports, and then having to go outside and pretend that I was.”

Since coming out in 2019 — after achieving mainstream success with his hit “Old Town Road” — Lil Nas X has been embracing his true self, regardless of criticism and backlash.

His interview with Out was conducted shortly after his high-profile performance at this year’s BET Awards. The artist spoke about the criticism he faced following his splashy number, which concluded with him passionately kissing one of his backup dancers.

“Going to this place with all these overly masculine rappers and you’re finna be in there throwing a little a** every now and then, touching on dudes and hugging them and kissing them…at some points I was like, ‘Should I even do this? I don’t feel like they’re going to love me like that,’” he recalls. “[People always say], ‘Go where you’re accepted,’ and stuff like that, but you can’t always just go where you’re accepted. You’ve got to go and break down those walls and say, ‘This is my space now too.'”

Lil Nas X goes on to explain that conforming to expectations can be as exhausting as defying them, but there’s an undeniable stress to living your truth in front of so many who don’t or wont necessarily accept you.

“Mentally, it’s really draining and straining sometimes,” he says. “The pressure of living your entire life knowing the identity of what a rapper is supposed to be, what rappers [are supposed to] do, and going out there in front of all these people, it’s terrifying.”

“[The BET performance] was like jumping in a lake full of sharks and piranhas,” he adds. “And I’ve had to do that so many times within these last three years. Even coming out, that was terrifying.”

He also explains his motivation and the meaning behind naming his new album, Montero, after himself — as his real name is Montero Lamar Hill.

“I named the album after myself because there are a lot of things I’ve been going through and dealing with and wanting to say,” he shares. “I wanted to let sides of myself show that I’ve been afraid of people seeing for so long.”

Lil Nas X tells Out that he’s “still not my full self,” but he now feels that “that fear of the people around you that you’re the closest to, and loving the most, not understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing, that’s something we just have to let go of.”

“All of this is in pursuit of becoming my full self, more and more,” he shares.

Looking back at his original intentions for his career, he says he first wanted to be “this huge rapper,” but his overall motivations have evolved and developed significantly.

“I was looking to blend in when I first started, but now I genuinely don’t mind and wish to do my own thing and stand out. I wanted to just be an artist at first. I wanted to just make music,” he explains. “But now I have even more of a purpose: to continue to find myself and, by doing so, help others find themselves.”

Out magazine is available on digital newsstands now and in print on Aug. 17.

Tune in to Tuesday’s Entertainment Tonight for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Lil Nas X’s stylish photoshoot for his Out magazine cover. Check here for local listings.

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