As an openly gay male artist in mainstream pop, Sam Smith is aware that he’s still very much an anomaly.
The 25-year-old singer-songwriter appears to be having more fun exploring his sexuality through his music on his new album, “The Thrill of It All,” due out Friday. But in a new interview with the Herald Sun, Smith opened up about the challenges that come with “speaking for a community” and, as such, “constantly trying to say the right thing.”
“I get asked really heavy questions in interviews which I don’t think other pop acts get asked. I’m not moaning but it is intense and it’s all because of my sexuality,” he said. Noting that he’s “willing to answer” questions about his private life, he added, “I’m going to slip up sometimes, but I’m doing my best.”
Smith pointed to his 2016 Academy Awards speech, in which he implied that he was the first openly gay man to win an Oscar while picking up the Best Original Song award for his James Bond theme, “Writing’s on the Wall,” and misquoted Ian McKellen in the process. Needless to say, the singer was lambasted for the mistake on social media, which he later blamed on a few swigs of tequila he’d taken prior to the speech.
“It can be damaging if you say the wrong thing. I need to take responsibility for that,” he said. “I’ve learned so much more about my history as a gay man since that Oscars night. I’m always trying to work on being a better person.”
Even more troubling is the constant stream of negative comments he faces.
“I get homophobic abuse on a daily basis on social media,” he said.
Regardless of the criticism that comes his way, Smith ultimately hopes that living his life authentically will inspire young listeners who are questioning their sexuality, yet may not encounter other openly queer people in their hometowns.
“The press and the inner city is one thing, but I’m really just trying to reach the kids in the middle of nowhere,” he said. “Like me. I grew up in a village in the middle of nowhere.”
“I loved how flawed he was. He was a superstar but he was a human at the same time, that’s inspiring to me,” he told the Herald Sun. “His words were my escape. That’s what I want to try and be.”
Read the entire interview over at the Herald Sun.