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Music

Lil Nas X makes history as first openly gay black artist to win at CMA Awards

Lil Nas X backstage during the 2019 Stagecoach Festival in Indio.
Lil Nas X backstage during the 2019 Stagecoach Festival in Indio.
(Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images)

Lil Nas X made history Wednesday night at the 53rd CMA Awards when he became the first openly gay black musician to take home a win from the Country Music Assn.

His hit “Old Town Road,” a collaboration with veteran country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, was named the musical event of the year. The song similarly made history, ruling at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for 19 weeks, until Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” dethroned it in August.

For the record:
11:47 AM, Nov. 14, 2019 An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Lil Nas X was the first openly gay artist to win a CMA Award. He is the first openly gay black artist to do so.

Lil Nas X and Cyrus edged out some of country music’s most esteemed artists — Brooks & Dunn, Garth Brooks and Maren Morris — to win the award. But the winning duo didn’t get a chance to speak on stage. The award was announced on “Good Morning America” earlier that day.

That didn’t sour Lil Nas X‘s enthusiasm when he heard the news, however. The 20-year-old TikTok sensation from Georgia reacted on Twitter to the news. With many exclamation points.

Country singers Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark, both of whom are white and openly gay, shared the 2014 song of the year CMA Award with Kacey Musgraves for “Follow Your Arrow.”

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The young country rapper came out of the closet in July on the last day of Pride month. And in true Gen Z nature, he did so on Twitter, where he pointed to the song “C7osure” off his debut EP as confirmation.

The artist also made headlines at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards when he took home the song of the year award with Cyrus for “Old Town Road,” besting Drake, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift. Lil Nas X was the first LGBTQ artist to win that award.


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