In a recent snippet of HBO’s talkshow The Shop, Lil Nas X, Kevin Hart and others sit down in a barbershop to have “unfiltered conversation and debate”. Of course, the topic of conversation ultimately leads to Lil Nas’ coming out earlier this year.

He’s asked why he thought it was necessary to come out.

“He said he was gay. So what?” Kevin chimes in.

“It’s not that it’s being forced,” Lil Nas responds. “It’s just that… Growing up… I’m growing up to hate this shit…”

“Hate what? Why?” Kevin interjects once again, obviously gaslighting.

“Homosexuality, gay people,” Lil Nas says. “Come on now, if you’re really from the hood, you know…”

Lil Nas continues: “For me, the cool dude with this song, on top of everything to say this any other time, [people could think] I’m doing this for attention, in my eyes. But if you doing this while you’re at the top, you know it’s for real and it’s showing it doesn’t really matter, I guess.”

Lil Nas stays admirably composed and poised amidst a clusterfuck of ignorance, interjections and loud voices.

If you need a reminder about why Kevin Hart’s presence in this conversation is so alarming to begin with:

Once again, Kevin Hart’s talking when he should be listening.

In trying to assume the role of a once-homophobic-but-now-super-chill-and-happy-with-whatever-the-kids-do-these-days uncle, Hart is completely overlooking the hardship that coming out still entails, particularly for queer people of colour, while completely undermining a queer person’s right to express this journey freely.

It’s so absurd watching Kevin, a man who has never come out, so flippantly suggest that Lil Nas’ coming out isn’t important, as if his opinion on this topic was welcome at all.

Well Kevin, let me make this abundantly clear – as someone whose words have been so denigrating to queer people in the past, and as someone who once said that they’d beat the gay out of their own son if they ever came out, your opinion is not welcome. Not in the slightest.

Kevin, you aren’t the be-all and end-all of homophobia – just because you’ve supposedly denounced your own homophobia and made an apology that’s flimsy at best, that doesn’t mean that the world is now completely expunged of homophobia, too.

Yes, the obvious rose-tinted goal is to reach a point where no one will ever feel the need to come out, but until we get to a point where LGBTI folk aren’t 5 times more likely to attempt suicide and gay relationships aren’t criminalised in 71 countries, it’s still pretty fucking important.

“Who cares?” you ask Lil Nas. Who cares? Of course you don’t care, Kevin, but that’s the point – it’s not for you. Lil Nas’ bravery will have widespread, positive impact on LGBTI folk everywhere, particularly on closeted youth and kids who are so desperately searching for a queer role model.

They care. That’s why it’s still important.

Lil Nas X is a beacon of hope for those who still don’t believe that they can be honest and successful at the same time.

Image: The Shop / HBO