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Lil Nas X is the most homoerotic man in music right now. As he gears up for the release of his debut album Montero this summer, the singer and rapper, who first hit the big time with the hit single Old Town Road, has put his sexuality front and centre of his campaign. Released in March, the video for the album's lead single Montero Call Me By Your Name saw him pole-dance into the fiery depths of hell, before giving the devil a lap-dance, while wearing thigh high boots.

Performing the song on Saturday Night Live in May, he was clad in a leather two-piece painted with red flames, with his oiled-up torso on display, as half-naked men danced behind him, and one of them even licked him. Then, in another sex videos no sign up at the BET awards a couple of weeks ago, he went one step further, giving a passionate kiss to one of his backing dancers while dressed as a pharaoh.

As for those who might take issue with such displays of queerness? Lil Nas X has positively revelled in provoking them. The devilish video for Montero was, above all, his way of turning homophobic rhetoric — which has long described gay people as sinners who are destined for hell — on its head, while the lyrics practically drip with arousal. Then after the BET awards, he responded on Twitter to complaints about his kiss by joking that he would have sex on stage next time.

Lil Nas X has put his sexuality front and centre of his image, as part of a mission to help normalise queerness Credit: Getty Images. The rise of Lil Nas X is representative of an era where gay sex is taking up more space in music than ever. He also subverted the homophobic association between homosexuality and sin in the lyrics and video of his single Sanctify, a song about sex with a man who is still in the closet.

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Australian pop star Troye Sivan's album Bloom featured numerous references to sex with men. More recently, bisexual rapper Cardi B's record-breakingjoyfully lascivious WAPcontained the most-googled lyrics of When these musicians first hit it big, it was a very different era: in the s, disco had allowed queerness in pop to flourish for a brief moment with US acts such as Sylvester and The Village Peoplewhile in the UK punk group Tom Robinson Band released the seminal gay protest anthem Glad to be Gay in But as the Aids pandemic worsened in the s, gay men became tabloid targets, and while speculation over stars' sexuality was rife, they remained in the closet, prevented from expressing their sexuality in their work in any overt ways.

As critic Alfred Soto wrote in a tribute to Michael following his death, fans back then were "fine with queerness so long as the artists didn't ask or tell". David Bowie — who traded on an androgynous aesthetic and a hedonistic public persona — had found this out the hard way. He regarded coming out gay inthen bisexual in before re-asing himself as a "closet heterosexual" later on as one of the biggest mistakes of his career. Bowie said in a interview that bisexuality made things "a lot tougher" in the "puritanical" US and "stood in the way of so much [he] wanted to do".

Sex videos no sign up a interviewBoy George also attributed the downturn of his career in the US with coming out as bisexual on television in thebefore coming out as gay years later. There were exceptions, who capitalised on controversy relating to their discussion of gay sex. Frankie Goes To Hollywood's iconic hit Relax, a song about anal sex with a video set in a leather club, was famously banned from TV and radio by the BBCbut it still became one of the best-selling singles ever in the UK.

Meanwhile, British synth-pop trio Bronski Beat's successful debut album highlighted the unequal age of consent for gay men in the UK at the time.

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The group headlined the famous Pits and Perverts concert in London's Electric Ballroom to raise funds for campaign group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, an event which was portrayed in the film Pride. However while these acts were able to make a momentary splash as gay provocateurs, expectations were different for big-name artists hoping to carve-out long-term careers in the mainstream, whose public image was more tightly monitored by record label bosses. Such examples aside, music's association with queerness for a long time was a primarily clandestine one.

In A Very English Scandal, the recent TV drama starring Hugh Grant about the gay sex scandal that engulfed British politician Jeremy Thorpe inthe adjective "musical" was used as a euphemism for a man being gay. Pop, in particular, is a genre that has long been a covert outlet for queer sexual expression, as culture journalist Brennan Carley points out. What feels different now, though, is that young, mainstream artists are referencing queer sex in a way that goes far beyond subtle implication: they are truly out and proud.

And they are doing so to a chorus, in the main, of celebration and acceptance. There was a predictable furore in response to Lil Nas X's Montero Call Me By Your Name video and its subversive satanic theme: footage of US pastors branding the rapper a "Satanist" began to circulate the internet and Fox News hosts expressed anger, while conservative commentators called out the young rapper on Twitter.

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Yet these voices felt very much like an angry minority and the song went straight to one on the Billboard Hot As a marker of how things have changed only relatively recently, compare the reception of Lil Nas X to that of another gay male US pop star, Adam Lambert, when he emerged just over a decade ago.

First of all, just before appearing in the final of American Idol insupposedly "scandalous" photos of him kissing another man appeared online and sparked national conversation. Then later that year, while performing his debut single at the American Music Awards, the now publicly-out Lambert caused uproar by kissing a male backing dancer.

CBS blurred out the kisswhich drew thousands of complaints, from its televised broadcast. Jarett Barrios, then-president of GLAAD, claimed that the censorship "reinforced an unfortunate double standard that is applied to gay performers". However, Lambert was unapologetic when he was outed in the press, and in the face of outrage at his televised kiss. With this response, he was picking up the proverbial baton passed to him by George Michael, who became very public in his embrace of his sexuality inafter he was outed via his highly publicised arrest for cruising in a Los Angeles public toilet.

With the single Outside, he matched sexually upfront lyrics with an irreverent video in which he played a police officer, turning the tabloid attempts to shame him on their head. In the aftermath of the peak of the Aids crisis in the UK, this gave a generation of gay men — who had grown up under homophobic Section 28 legislation — a much-needed shame-free celebratory image of gay sexuality in mainstream culture, and Michael became an exemplar for gay musicians looking to assert themselves.

But also, it's gratifying that it's not just gay men who are dominating such discourse anymore. The contribution of some huge female pop acts in normalising acceptance of queerness can't be understated, including queer stars like Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga. Carley thinks Gaga is the most "brightly shining example" of a pop star normalising queer sex over the last decade. Social media has also played a role in queering music — and allowing stars to be frank about their lives, when it comes to their sexuality and otherwise, in their own way, unmediated by the industry or the press.

InFrank Ocean changed the landscape of hip-hop forever when he revealed in a Tumblr post that his first love was a man. These platforms have allowed queer artists to build a following without waiting for record companies to take a risk on them. It also gives them a way of communicating directly with their audience and addressing criticism — or prejudice — head-on.

However, when it comes to commerciality, queer artists have still faced an uphill battle in recent years — and particularly when they sing about sex. In a piece for GQ magazine, pop-culture writer Alim Kheraj wrote that queer artists were struggling to make money: "the sour truth of it all: queerness still, it seems, isn't bankable". Kheraj observed that Hayley Kiyoko was the only openly queer artist to break into the top 40 on the US Billboard Hot chart in — despite it being a year nicknamed " 20GAYTEEN " by Vice Magazine, using an expression coined by Kiyoko herself, for its proliferation of young queer people across popular culture.

Sam Smith's album sales began to fall at the same time as the British singer became more public about their queer sexuality including with a much-discussed appearance on US talk show Watch What Happens Live. This mirrors what we have seen in Hollywood film, where queer sexuality is still allowed only so long as it is relatively desexualised or not too queer: Call Me By Your Name and Bohemian Rhapsody are just two recent examples of films that starred straight actors and were accused of sanitising their characters' sexuality for mainstream audiences.

After keeping his sexuality secret for the early part of this career, George Michael publicly embraced it with his joyous single Outside Credit: Alamy. In fact, their hyper-sexual performances and videos seem to be driving their commercial success. Now, it feels like pop music could be uniquely placed to facilitate a wider sex videos no sign up of overt queer sexuality within mainstream culture because, as well as providing space for ambiguity and innuendo over the years, it is a medium that also thrives via controversy, spectacle and experimentation.

The MTV Video Music Awards — when Britney Spears and Madonna infamously kissed — and the video for Christina Aguilera's smash hit Beautiful — which featured same-sex couples kissing sex videos no sign up are two examples of watercooler pop music moments that platformed same-sex intimacy. Carley says Katy Perry's hit I Kissed a Girl, which saw Perry flirting with same-sex attraction, is, while flawed, another important example of this type of "moment".

Increasingly, though, audiences are becoming more sceptical of displays of queer sexuality that they suspect to be ersatz. The song's lyrics, which included the insinuation that girls only kiss after drinking red wine, were called out by Kiyoko, among others, for fuelling "the male gaze while marginalizing the idea of women loving women". Fans accused Ora, in particular, of "queer baiting" — a marketing technique in which creators hint at, but then do not actually depict, same-sex romance in order to generate publicity and sales. This backlash led to the unfortunate situation where she then felt the need to address the backlash by publicly coming out as bisexual.

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After so many years of watching queer stars be shunned as soon as they were too open about sex, it's hardly surprising that some might feel uncomfortable with queer people and sexuality being used in a way that doesn't feel authentic. Trump is gone for now, but even so, I think that's what queer musicians are doing now: they're saying 'we're not going anywhere'".

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Carley thinks this helped pave the way for today's musicians to be sexual: "We are where we are today because of our forebears. They will say I am pushing an agenda. But the truth is: I am," he wrote. Time will tell whether Lil Nas X can harness the power of controversy and ride the tidal wave of love from his queer fans to long-term superstardom.

Now that a new generation of queer music trailblazers like him are opening not just the closet door, but the bedroom door too, others should be able to grind, lick and pole dance their way through it. Pop will always find a way to thrive off controversy. And if that ever happens, queer artists will thank the stars of today, and yesterday, for daring to share their sexuality with the world. If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook or message us on Twitter.

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By Louis Staples 12th July With his sexed-up performances and on-stage kisses, Lil Nas X is the most talked-about man in pop. He's part of a wave of queer stars asserting their sexuality, writes Louis Staples. Gay pop stars can be — and have been — subversive about slipping in references that change our language and thoughts about gay sex — Brennan Carley. Lesbianism and queer femininity have been more invisible, historically, compared to gay male sexuality and I think that is changing, and it's important to see — Amelia Abraham. The suspicion over 'queer baiting' Increasingly, though, audiences are becoming more sceptical of displays of queer sexuality that they suspect to be ersatz.

One way to protect your rights is to exercise them.

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I think that's what queer musicians are doing now: they're saying 'we're not going anywhere' — Dr David Bretherton. Around the BBC.

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