With the long-awaited release of their fourth studio album Gloria, Sam Smith is riding a massive high. But as the singer tells it, getting to where they are now took a while.
In a new interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, Smith spoke at length about their coming out as non-binary back in 2019, and how they had to manage both the private and public parts of that process in full view of the world.
“In my personal life, there’s not one negative,” they said, pointing out that both their family and romantic lives have thrived since opening up. “Since changing my pronouns, it felt like a coming home. I wish I knew what the words were when I was in school, because I would’ve identified as that in school.”
But when it came to their public life, Smith says it continues to be a struggle dealing with bigotry on a regular basis. “What people don’t realize with trans non-binary people in the U.K. is it’s happening in the street. I’m being abused in the street verbally more than I ever have,” they told Lowe. “So that was the hardest part, I think, was being at home in the U.K. and having people shouting at me in the street. Someone spat at me in the street. It’s crazy.”
Continuing, the singer shared that their experience was one of the better ones by comparison to trans and non-binary people trying to get on with life around the globe. “What I find hard about it is it’s like, if that’s happening to me and I’m famous, I’m a pop star, can you imagine what other queer kids are feeling?” they asked. “And it’s just so sad that we’re in 2023 and it’s still happening. It’s exhausting.”
But it’s not all bad. In December, Smith performed “Stay With Me” at the signing of the Respect for Marriage Act by President Joe Biden at the White House. The new law enshrined marriage equality for same-sex couples into U.S. federal law, protecting against a potential overturning of the Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that Justice Clarence Thomas recommended in June 2022.
“I was like, ‘I’m at the White House. I’m surrounded by the gays and the queers and we’re celebrating some good news.’ It’s sad, but it’s a rare thing sometimes within our community,” Smith said. “So it was really beautiful to be able to celebrate that.”
Check out Smith’s full interview with Zane Lowe above.