Lil Nas X has recently started dropping snippets of new songs online, and that means another unabashedly gay music era may soon be upon us.
We can’t imagine how he could possibly top last year’s shockingly homoerotic Montero video, but it seems certain that he’ll do his best to send pearl-clutching conservatives into a tailspin once again.
In anticipation of what’s to come, let’s take a look back at five music videos that were just too hot for the media to handle. Cheers to the artists who live provocatively and embrace sexuality, and may the art ahead of us be even wilder and sluttier than these…
Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1983)
The original video for this ‘80s new wave anthem follows the gradual descent of a suit-and-tie type down the rabbit hole of an underground leather bar. It features the lead wrestling a tiger onstage for a crowd of mustached hunks, a Caeser-esque bear who presides over the club stripping down to a leather thong, and ends with the main character fully a part of the crowd and grinding into another man from behind. The video was quickly banned by the BBC for… well, all of that. The original song was also banned from BBC radio for suggestive lyrics (the constantly repeated “when you want to come” especially), which actually ended up being outdone by the suggestiveness of the song’s ad campaign. One NME ad for the single featured gay lead singer Holly Johnson in a tank top and sailor hat with the tagline “All The Nice Boys Love Sea Men” and boasting “nineteen inches that must be taken always.” Another saw gay back-up vocalist Paul Rutherford with a shaved head and leather gloves touting it as “a guide to Amsterdam bars.” Frankie Goes To Hollywood knew exactly what they were doing, and they did it with aplomb.
Justify My Love by Madonna (1990)
“Wanting, needing, waiting…” Justify My Love was Madonna at her most softcore, with all of the video’s players caressing and kissing and watching everyone else. This lead single from gay foundational text The Immaculate Collection is possibly the most defining “too hot for MTV” music video in history, and its indulgent look at sadomasochism and bisexuality (as well as the immediate ban from MTV) led to it becoming the highest selling video single of all time. The success of this black-and-white masterclass on sensuality undoubtedly contributed to her leaning into eroticism in subsequent projects like Erotica, the Sex coffee table book, and the erotic thriller film Body of Evidence. Despite whatever protestations the masses made in public, it was clear that women with drawn-on facial hair and men in tight harnesses were popular behind closed doors.
All The Lovers by Kylie Minogue (2010)
Following a light smattering of same sex music video kisses through the ‘00s like Christina’s “Beautiful” and t.A.T.u.’s “All The Things She Said”, Kylie Minogue finally came and reminded people that sometimes a video just needs to be a mess of writhing bodies and sexuality. The exposed skin and hands reaching past gender or sex saw this video allegedly banned in several countries including Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. 2010 was actually a banner year for gays kissing in big name music videos at the time (“Firework”, “Raise Your Glass”, etc.), but with her pansexual wonderland piling to the heavens, Miss Minogue quite literally came out on top.
House of Air by Brendan MacLean (2017)
Inspired by Hal Fischer’s “Gay Semiotics”, the 18+ House of Air video (Link NSFW!) racked up almost a million views before being banned from YouTube. Its 10-day hangtime was a surprise to MacLean, who’d uploaded it to the platform as a joke and had expected it to come down immediately. The video for this airy synth-pop number ends up serving as a hanky code guide for the most visual of learners, eventually getting so graphic with its kink and fetish elements that we can’t host it directly on our wholesome family-friendly website. The brave of heart, the kinky of spirit, and the capital-Q Queers who enjoy a light helping of John Waters-level filth can find the video out in the internet ether.
Montero (Call Me By Your Name) by Lil Nas X (2021)
Our little country-rap wonder traded in his cowboy boots for thigh high stilettos and rode that stripper pole into hell like the rent was due. The original DL image of Lil Nas X’s come-up had been all but forgotten by the time the Montero rollout came around, and had instead been replaced by a loudly gay cultural contrarian. This new image came fully to fruition in the Montero music video which featured heavily homoerotic and biblical imagery, the most notable of these being a nearly nude Nas busting it open on a beefcake version of Satan himself. The word “iconic” is thrown around quite a bit these days, but the scenes of this fledgling male popstar grinding into the devil’s lap before snapping his neck and assuming the throne of Hell for himself surely have to have secured their place in the annals of gay history.