Lil Nas X is pregnant.
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This Thursday, across TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram, musician Lil Nas X posted images and videos of himself with a baby bump. Social media users immediately shared his photos, with some earnestly asking if the 22-year-old artist was actually pregnant, and why he would spread content that associates pregnancy with masculinity. Many defended him.
Lil Nas X is not actually pregnant. Photos and videos show Lil Nas X shirtless with a prosthetic belly, a move designed as a publicity stunt to announce the birth of his new album, Montero. Lil Nas X is portraying the album as his metaphorical baby.
As an artist, Lil Nas X is known for challenging gender and sexuality norms. When he released the music video to his hit song, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” for example, Lil Nas X attempted to subvert pop music and queer iconography. In the video, released March 26, 2021, Lil Nas gave a lap dance to Satan before killing him, a move that many critics and media scholars said embraces and shines a light on queer imagery and history.
“I want kids growing up feeling these feelings, knowing they’re a part of the LGBTQ community, to feel like they’re O.K. and they don’t have to hate themselves,” Lil Nas said in a Time interview days after the song’s release.
This latest publicity stunt, where he posted content of himself sporting a baby bump, appears to be another example of that kind of subversion. At the same time, it’s a way to publicize his upcoming album, expected to be released on Sept. 17, he said on social media.
In the past, he’s used emoji images of pregnant men in an attempt to troll Drake, who released an album on Sept. 3 with a cover featuring rows of emoji pregnant women.
Some social media users responded to his photoshoot with the baby bump with anger, arguing that Lil Nas X is being irresponsible by portraying himself pregnant to his fans, many of whom are young children.
In a since-deleted Instagram post, for example, comedian Donnell Rawlings said, "I'm with freedom of whatever, but at this point, Lil Nas is fucking with the minds of kids. What are your thoughts, how do I explain this shit to my son?"
Across various industries like music, journalism, and education, there are movements to shift or reimagine gender norms. Some schools and businesses, for example, have been embracing gender-neutral bathrooms to avoid isolating and marginalizing LGBTQ individuals. Lil Nas X has made it clear that he’s part of this change to deconstruct gender norms that constrict individuals into stereotypically feminine and masculine ideals.
It is possible for men to become pregnant. That’s because not all individuals who are assigned the male sex at birth use the male identity when they’re older. Transgender men who are born with a uterus, for example, can become pregnant if they keep the same reproductive system when they’re older.