There are a few things I know to be true about Lil Nas X: 1) He makes really good music and has a great social media presence. 2) His taste in fashion is impeccable. And 3) He can certainly start a conversation on religion.
On October 24, all of those truths combined when I saw this Instagram post from the chart-topping, queer rapper/singer-songwriter.
As I swiped through, enjoying the video from one of his latest concerts and checking out his outfit, something caught me eye. Dangling from his right ear, Lil Nas X wore an earring that is unmistakably a Magen David, or Star of David. Naturally this prompted the biggest record-scratch moment I’ve experienced in recent history, begging the question: Is Lil Nas X Jewish??
At least from a familial and upbringing perspective, the answer seems to be no. Lil Nas X, whose real name is Montero Hill, grew up with a gospel-singer father and regularly attended church. Though he never had a “super bad” experience at church as a gay youth, Lil Nas X’s music is clearly a response to evangelical ideas of Christianity. The star’s debut album, “Montero,” features a music video for the titular track where Lil Nas X pole dances into hell and gives Satan a lap dance.
Moreover, in March of 2021, Lil Nas X became embroiled in controversy when he released sneakers called “Satan Shoes,” which sport a pentagram, an inverted cross and human blood. Even more devilishly, the shoes were made in a batch of 666 and a pair was priced at $1,018 in reference to the Bible verse Luke 10:18, which says “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
All of this, however, does not preclude the possibility that Lil Nas X might be exploring Judaism or conversion — though he has not publicly spoken on the subject. It’s totally possible, when it comes to the Star of David earring, he just liked the design! Either way, the internet has had a lot to say about it.
Yesterday, Jewish actress and comic Hannah Einbinder shared Lil Nas X’s Instagram story in which he is wearing the earring and added this emoji, “🥰,” signaling appreciation for his gesture, whatever it may be.
On the Instagram post itself, likes piled onto this comment which points out the Jewishness of his earring and also seems to implicitly support Lil Nas X’s jewelry choice.
But others were unhappy with him, like these Jewish Twitter users who see it as a form of appropriation:
Here’s what I’ve got about Lil Nas X’s Star of David earring: I appreciate any and all support of the Jewish community but I’m not down with the appropriation of Jewish symbols. If you’re going to wear it, you have to know the meaning behind it.
— Jordyn (@JordynTilchen) October 24, 2021
No it's called goyim appropriating Jewish culture for the aesthetic but never actually doing anything useful like fighting antisemitism
— (((Avi/אבי))) (@youreverydayjew) October 24, 2021
So, what’s the meaning behind Lil Nas X’s Jewish star earring? Without clarification from the music sensation himself, it’s impossible to say. However, it’s hard for me to believe that the decision was totally uninformed. Lil Nas X is an extremely socially aware celebrity, having previously spotlighted HIV stigma, shown support for Black Lives Matter, and actively wants to provide representation for the LGBTQ community. I’m inclined to believe that his fashion choice came from a place of appreciation for Jewish culture.
In a time replete with symbols of antisemitic hatred, I’ll happily accept the gesture.