Sam Smith Responds to Criticism Over His Oscar Speech


Sam Smith accepts his Oscar for Best Original Song with Jimmy Napes. (Photo: Getty Images)

There’s something that happens whenever Sam Smith opens his mouth: something ill-informed, at best, comes out. This happened once again Sunday night when, while accepting the Oscar for Best Original Song, Smith claimed to be the first openly gay person to accept an Oscar, a fact that is demonstrably not true.

In his speech, Smith was citing an article by Ian McKellen which pointed that no openly gay actor had every received an Academy Award, a distinction McKellen pointed out lightly on Twitter.

However, others pointed out Smith’s error a bit more pointedly. Correcting Smith, Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2009, also asked Smith to stop texting his fiancé, Olympic diver Tom Daley.

Waking up “hungover” after the Oscar festivities, Smith attempted to correct his error.

He also replied directly to Black, though he did not address whether or not he’d stop texting Tom Daley (or if he has ever texted him in the first place).

It’s not so much Smith’s factual error that caused such ire, but the fact that wrongness is, for Smith, something of a status quo. Having told NME last year that he wants to be “a spokesperson” for the LGBT community, he seems to have learned precious little about the community for which he claims to speak.

Related: Sam Smith Tweets About the Moment He Learned Racism Was Still a Thing

Backstage at the Oscars, a journalist pointed out Smith’s error, informing him that Howard Ashman was out when he won Oscars in the late 1980s and early 1990s for Best Original Song. “I should know him,” Smith quipped. “We should date.” As the Associated Press points out in its recounting of the story, Ashman died in 1991 from complications due to AIDS.

Even Smith’s response to the criticism reads a little false. He claims his “point was to shine some light on the LGBT community who I love so dearly,” though falsely claiming to be the first openly gay Oscar winner seems like a strange way to shine light on your fellow homosexual artists. In fact, winning for “Writing’s on the Wall,” Smith beat composer Anohni, one of the first transgender people to ever receive an Academy Award nomination, a fact Smith failed to mention.

Representation is key, but it’s not everything. Imagine seeing not only an openly gay person accept an Oscar but one who knew his history and really understood the community for which he claims to speak.