Lil Nas X just became the first openly gay man to obtain a Country Music Association Award.
The record-breaking single by the out rapper and country star Billy Ray Cyrus won the award for CMA Musical Event of the Year.
“I wasn’t sure if this was going to able to take place tonight,” Lil Nas X said to reporters afterward. “I am so happy this was accepted because it is the bridging of two completely polar opposite genres put together. I’m just happy, you know, it has gotten respect in both communities.”
It’s quite the path for the song, which was the first by an openly gay man to even be nominated for a CMA Award.
Billboard infamously declined to list “Old Town Road” on its country charts, but the breakout hit ended up topping the Billboard 100 for a record-setting 19 consecutive weeks, remainng on the charts at the top spot through late spring and all of summer. It eventually became successful in the dissimilar rap and country worlds.
All the more stunning, the song’s success and popularity within the country world continued after Lil Nas X came out as gay in June.
The award was also the first CMA won by Cyrus, an LGBTQ ally, in more than a quarter-century.