Sam Smith Is Far From the First Openly Gay Oscar Winner, Despite What He Said in His Speech
Last night Sam Smith and songwriter Jimmy Napes won the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Writing's on the Wall” from Spectre. Putting aside my dislike of the song, I'd rather talk about Sam's acceptance speech for the award, in which he suggested he is the first openly gay man to win an Oscar. That couldn't be further from the truth.
Here's what Sam said in his speech, referencing a recent Guardian interview with actor Ian McKellen.
“I read an article a few months ago by Sir Ian McKellen, and he said that no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar, and if this is the case, even if it isn't the case, I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world. I stand here tonight as a proud gay man and I hope we can all stand together as equals one day.”
In fact, Ian McKellen was talking about the Oscar for Best Actor. Several gay men have won Oscars, including, in Sam's own category, Elton John and Stephen Sondheim. And if you want to include gay women in the conversation, you can add Melissa Etheridge.
It wouldn't have been difficult for Sam to research this before his speech to avoid the incorrect suggestion that he was breaking new ground, even within his own category. He still could have dedicated his award to the LGBT community and expressed the same message of equality without prefacing it with false information.
According to EW, Sam was informed backstage that he was wrong, and he responded, “Shit! Fuck that!” Then he continued to underestimate the number of winners there had been, saying, “Two's my lucky number, so it's all good. Who was the other person?” You can't see it, but I'm facepalming right now.
One of the other persons is screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who won Best Original Screenplay in 2009 for Milk. He was not happy with Sam's comment last night and took to Twitter to call him out with a link to his own acceptance speech. Then things got personal when he suggested that Sam has been texting his fiancé, Olympic diver Tom Daley.
— Dustin Lance Black (@DLanceBlack) February 29, 2016
Well, that escalated quickly. Yikes.
(Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)