Sam Smith Was Punched in the Face for Wearing Women's Clothing
Category is: evolution. Sam Smith is the cover star of Out Magazine's Out100.
Smith, who came out as non-binary earlier this year, sat down with their friend ALOK to chat about everything from new music, building a queer community, and the legacy they want to leave behind.
"In changing my pronouns, I felt incredible freedom. It’s like a brick was lifted off my chest, and with that freedom comes another kind of pain," said Smith. "Feeling this free in our skin is answered with abuse. And that’s really hard. For the last year and a half, I’ve thought about changing my pronouns. I’ve always hid behind my “he, him” pronouns because I was too scared. I thought living a life playing pretend would be less painful than being authentic. But I’d rather be myself, even if it means being abused for it. I’d rather get all this shit for being myself than lie to myself. That’s not a way to live."
"There was something blocking me when I was writing my last album because I felt like I was playing this 'Sam Smith' character that I created. I was depressed because I was this person in suits who other people wanted me to be. I can wear a suit now, actually, and can feel completely different in the suit, but at the time I felt, I’ve got to be butch for other people. I feel my music suffered. I think people can hear that. As soon as I came out with 'Promises' and 'Dancing With a Stranger,' I started playing. I started having fun. I started being myself. My art has become truer and more honest after coming to peace with being nonbinary."
They opened up about a time they were punched in the face for wearing women's clothing and makeup at the beginning of their career, which impacted how they presented themself to the public.
"Sometimes I feel a bit bad about it, but I definitely did make a decision," they explained. "I was 19 when I moved to London, and I got punched. I used to wear lots of makeup and female clothing, and I got punched by this man, and ever since that happened, I started to dress down. When I started to dress down, that’s when my music career started to lift off, but I made a decision in that moment that I felt more comfortable and safer pushing myself to that male side, and it helped. It helped my music because I guess there was nothing polarizing about me in that album, so I could cross over to all these parts of the world that are extremely homophobic."
But Smith isn't hiding who they are any longer.
"I just keep thinking about this one Bertolt Brecht quote: 'In the dark times, will there also be singing? / Yes there will also be singing. About the dark times.' I think if it came down to my legacy, I’d want people to think that I kept on singing," they concluded. "Singing through everything I’ve gone through until the day I fucking die, until there’s nothing left in my throat that will come out. I will carry on singing."
Read the inspiring full interview at Out.