Atlanta City Council honors Lil Nas X with his own day at homecoming event

The team from Gilead with Lil Nas X.

Credit: Courtesy of Columbia Records

Credit: Courtesy of Columbia Records

The team from Gilead with Lil Nas X.

It was a day in Atlanta that Lil Nas X won’t forget — mostly because it was named for him.

The 22-year-old Grammy Award-winning rapper, who was born and raised in the northwest Atlanta Bankhead neighborhood, returned to the city Wednesday night for a homecoming event hosted by Atlanta musician and producer Dallas Austin.

Lil Nas X, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, put out his first album, Montero, last month. Just two days ago, his song “Industry Baby” (featuring Jack Harlow) reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, his third No. 1 hit so far.

Atlanta City Council member Antonio Brown, who is running for mayor, attended the event of around 200 people to present Lil Nas X with two City Council proclamations commemorating the artist’s success and officially dubbing Oct. 20, 2021 “Lil Nas X Day.”

“You continue to break barriers, and you do it unapologetically, and I think it inspires so many people in this city. You’re an example of the possibilities that exist within all of us,” Brown said prior to giving Lil Nas X the first award. “So on behalf of the City of Atlanta. I would like to honor you with a city proclamation, acknowledging your success, especially from [your] hometown here in Atlanta, Georgia.”

Brown also took a moment to plug his mayoral campaign to the audience, saying, “And Lil Nas, I just want to say, you inspire me. I’m running to be the mayor of Atlanta, I would be the first LGBTQ mayor in the history of this city, and you inspire me to believe that I can do it, so thank you.”

As Lil Nas X accepted the award naming a day in his honor, he teared up, saying, “I would not have imagined I would be here four years ago … This is incredible, man, I mean life just keeps getting better. I’m from Atlanta and I’m sure a lot of you probably didn’t even know I was from Atlanta because it’s not something I’m always yelling, but I’m from the A.”

The event was co-sponsored by Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and the Gilead COMPASS Initiative, which is a 10-year initiative of biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences to invest $100 million towards addressing HIV and HIV stigma in the Southern United States. Lil Nas X has frequently used his work to promote queer voices and issues and has worked with Gilead since March.

Prior to the official event, BMI hosted a dinner where they presented the artist with several awards, including a “Million-Air” certificate that recognized another number one hit, “Old Town Road (Remix),” reaching more than one million broadcast performances.

“I didn’t prepare a speech or anything, but I’m happy that all of you guys are here right now,” Lil Nas X said after being presented with the awards. “I’m happy everybody’s just having fun, living in the moment, as I hope to do as I keep thriving and keep going in my career.”

A choir performs at a celebration for Lil Nas X in Atlanta on Oct. 20.

Credit: Courtesy of Columbia Records

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Credit: Courtesy of Columbia Records

At the event, a Gilead-sponsored choir made up of LGBTQ-affirming members of three Atlanta churches performed a medley of hits from Lil Nas X’s latest album. Singers donned purple robes in honor of GLAAD’s anti-bullying campaign as they clapped, sang, and danced to hits like “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” and “That’s What I Want.”

“We realized that, particularly in the South and in Black families, faith is a cornerstone of everything and so a lot of people struggle with self-identity self-acceptance, because of what they’ve been taught and what they believe,” said Mardrequs Harris, the Director of Community Investments for the Southern AIDS Coalition.

“We’re really just kind of changing those narratives and just seeing the choir ... it was just spiritual on another type of level, and we can do that work through anti-stigma.”

The night was one characterized by joy, as the crowd of more than 200 people danced, drank and celebrated Lil Nas X’s success for several hours. Other celebrities in attendance included singers Chloe Bailey of Chloe x Halle and Kandi Burruss-Tucker.

Hill will make an appearance at the Atlanta Hawks season-opening game tonight, a press release from the event noted.