It’s been a huge year for Sam Smith. Along with releasing two new singles, and getting fans excited about their upcoming album, the singer has embarked on a personal journey of discovery.
In March, Smith came out as non-binary and genderqueer, and in September, they publicly changed their pronouns to “they/them.” Now, Smith is taking a moment to reflect on their journey.
On Wednesday evening (Oct. 9), Smith attended the Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, where they were honored as the publication’s 2019 Person of the Year. Taking to the stage to give a speech, the singer immediately admitted that they were feeling nervous: “This is incredibly overwhelming,” they said. “Thank you so much to everyone in this room. Tonight, just watching all of you has just been amazing, and I’m so honored to be in this room with you all.”
Before launching into their speech, Smith addressed Dustin Lance Black, who had taken a moment to apologize to the singer on stage for the comments he made following the 2016 Oscars. (Back in 2016, Smith insinuated that they were, at the time, the first gay man to win an Oscar after he took home a trophy for their song “Writing’s On the Wall” — in fact, Black had won for best original screenplay in 2009 for his work on Milk, and the writer criticized the singer online for their statement.) After hearing Black’s sincere apology, Smith decided to clear the air. “You didn’t have to say sorry,” Smith said. “The truth is I did fuck up my speech, royally, at the Oscars, in front of 90 fucking million people. So I have written down my speech tonight so I don’t fuck it up.”
The star said that 2019 has felt like “a wild ride of self-realization, and has almost felt like a second coming out.” They went on to thank quite a few people who inspired their journey throughout the last year, including performance artist Alok Menon, writer Tom Rasmussen, transgender model and actress Munroe Bergdorf, Sink the Pink director Glyn Fussell, their publicists and managers and their family.
Thanks to those people, and the many others around them, Smith said they felt free to express their true self. “The reason I’ve been able to show all of the sides of myself to the public, and express myself in these ways, is because I felt incredibly safe,” they said.
Check out Smith’s full speech at the Attitude Awards below: