In 2012, Sam Smith bursted onto the music scene through his feature on Disclosure’s single ‘Latch’. Ever since then, the English singer known for his angelic voice has made an incredible name for himself. This well-deserved spotlight has allowed him to be vocal about his sexuality and the issues surrounding the LGBTQ+ community.
The rise of queer pop has seen multiple artists, such as Sam Smith, to be more open about their sexuality. This has in turn allowed for an increased visibility of LGTBQ+ artists and this diversity translates into their music and art.
Before the release of his highly anticipated debut album In the Lonely Hour in 2014, Smith came out publicly as gay. He spoke about his sexuality more openly in an interview saying that the inspiration for his debut album is about a male and his unrequited love.
“It’s about a guy and that’s what I wanted people to know – I want to be clear that that’s what it’s about […] I want to make it a normality because this is a non-issue. People wouldn’t ask a straight person these questions. I’ve tried to be clever with this album, because it’s also important to me that my music reaches everybody. I’ve made my music so that it could be about anything and everybody – whether it’s a guy, a female or a goat – and everybody can relate to that.”
Smith also spoke further about his coming out in an interview with Ellen. He told the comedian-talk show hostess:
“It didn’t feel like a coming out. I came out when I was like four years old, my mum said she knew when I was, like, three. So I didn’t have to actually properly come out. I kind of felt like I just had to mention it before I released my record, just so people knew [who] the record was about. And it felt like a brave thing to do as well. I wanted to do it before.”
Since then, Smith has further come out as non-binary which is also known as genderqueer. Those who identify as non-binary/genderqueer do not exclusively identify between the two traditional genders of male or female, instead gender is fluid and a spectrum where one can express themselves as a combination of genders or none at all. However, he has stated he will continue with the use of he/him pronouns.
He spoke about his identity in 2019 when appearing on Jameela Jamila’s Instagram interview series I Weigh. Smith stated: “When I saw the nonbinary, genderqueer, and I read into it and I heard these people speaking, I was like, ‘F—, that is me, I’ve always had a bit of a wall between my mind and my body.”
When asked to elaborate further he continued, “You are a mixture of all different things, you are your own special creation,” he said of his gender. “That’s how I take it; I’m not male or female, I think I flow somewhere in between. It’s all on the spectrum.”
As mentioned earlier, Sam Smith’s openness about his sexuality has allowed for it to translate into his music and art:
Leave Your Lover
The music video accompanying the single off of his debut album, the twist within the storyline is what initially caused speculation about Smith’s sexuality. The video features three friends, and Smith’s character singing to what appears to be the female member of the group. However, as the songs reaches its end, it becomes apparent to viewers that Smith is longing for the male friend of the group, whom he watches have a date with someone else.
Stay With Me
Arguably one of the most famous songs out of his debut album In the Lonely Hour, Smith sings out to a lover to simply, stay with him. The song avoid using specific pronouns of “she” or “he” which allows for the ambiguity of the song to apply to anyone. In the first moments of the video, Smith leaves the house of his one-night stand and the quick glimpse of their body could indicate that it was a male that Smith had spent the night with.
Lay Me Down
The video features Smith singing in a church which appears to be holding a funeral before revealing that the ceremony is actually a joy-filled gay wedding in the church.
Speaking on how the video was groundbreaking, Smith said to Rolling Stone:
“Obviously gay marriage isn’t legal in churches, and we’re doing a gay marriage today, in the church. We’re the first ever to do it. It’s obviously not a real marriage, but still. The priest just said to us, ‘We’re going against the rules by doing this today,’ which I thought was a lovely element in the video.”
Outside of his music, Sam Smith is looking to make a positive influence on the LGBTQ+ community. In an interview with NME, Smith said:
“I want to be a spokesperson. I want to be a figure in the gay community, who speaks for gay men. I sell records in countries where gay men get killed and that’s a big thing for me, because maybe one person in that country will pick up my album, realize it’s by a gay artist, and it might change their opinion.”
Smith had also teamed up with three local charities for his Australian concerts in 2018. The profits from his shows would go towards ReachOut, Twenty10, and The Equality Campaign. Reach Out is a leading mental health organization that provides practical support for young adults and parents, Twenty10 supports those in the LGBTQ+ community as well as their family. The Equality Campaign is looking towards gaining marriage equality in Australia.
Throughout his career, Sam Smith has provided the LGBTQ+ community with great representation and never shys aways from speaking up on the issues the community faces.
Has Sam Smith helped or inspired your pride journey at all? Let us know! – @umusic