By Rachel Yang
June 28, 2021 at 11:21 PM EDT

Lil Nas X delivered a brave, unapologetic, and electrifying performance at the BET Awards on Sunday, ending his set by locking lips with a male dancer. But before and during the show, the rapper says he was a bundle of nerves.

"it took me a lot of time to mentally prepare for this performance," Nas tweeted Monday. "while on stage i was trembling knowing that i was performing something like that in front of my straight peers. even during the performance i was having a hard time calming my nerves. thank you guys for the love."

After a commenter asked why he went through with it despite his fears, Nas responded, "if you don't push yourself outside of your comfort zone you will never grow."

But just like with his racy music video for "Montero," some complained that Nas's performance was inappropriate in its messaging and visuals.

"that's not my problem, stop letting ur kids watch the bet awards ni--- put on cocomelon," Nas tweeted in response to one critic, referencing a popular YouTube channel for children's programming.

In the notes for the track, released in April, the rapper wrote that his music "will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist" and hit back at haters who said he was promoting "an agenda."

"Dear 14-year-old Montero, I wrote a song with our name in it. It's about a guy I met last summer. I know we promised to never come out publicly, I know we promised to never be 'that' type of gay person, I know we promised to die with the secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist," the note read. "You see this is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say I'm pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am. The agenda to make people stay the f--- out of other people's lives and stop dictating who they should be. Sending you love from the future."

In other tweets on Monday, Nas pointed out that "we are 4 months in and people are still acting surprised that i am being gay and sexual in performances of a song about gay and sexual s---. the song is literally about gay sex what y'all want me to do play the piano while baking a cake?"

And when a critic accused Nas of being "insecure" with his sexuality, the rapper - who came out in 2019 - was honest, saying that his music is how he's actively working on his insecurities.

"i still have a long way to go. i've never denied that," he responded. "when you're conditioned by society to hate yourself your entire life it takes a lot of unlearning. which is exactly why i do what i do."

In response to a since-deleted tweet, Nas shot back that if there are people in the LGBTQ community who feel he's overcompensating, it's their issue to solve, not his.

"y'all hate yourselves so much. y'all live your lives trying your best to appease straight ppl," he wrote. "y'all are uncomfortable with what i do because y'all are afraid they will be uncomfortable with you. work on yourselves, i love who i am and whatever i decide to do. get there."

Of course, there were plenty of people who applauded Nas' fiery, Michael Jackson-inspired and Egyptian-themed performance.

"We're so proud. You did something bold and brave and necessary - you gave gay Black men a vision of themselves in a Black ass space," educator Alicia T. Crosby tweeted. "I legit watched just for you because I knew how important you being there was. Know it's not just our love but also our prayers & energy with you."

"Lil Nas X is the black gay popstar I needed to see as a kid," one writer said. "The fearlessness it takes to be so decidedly queer in front of a notoriously homophobic audience. I needed that."

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