Sam Smith recalls low point after coming out as non-binary: ‘Someone spat at me in the street’

Sam Smith shares abuse they received after coming out as non-binary. (Getty)

Global pop artist Sam Smith has opened up about the public abuse they received after coming out as non-binary.

In an interview with Apple Music‘s Zane Lowe, the singer, whose latest album Gloria is released today, reflected on their journey when it comes to body image, mental health and reclaiming their identity as a non-binary person.

Smith revealed that after publicly coming out as non-binary in 2019 and changing their pronouns, they faced a wave of abuse.

“The amount of hate and s**tness that came my way was really exhausting and hard,” they recalled.

“This isn’t me sitting at home googling my name and seeing things, that’s something I can control.

“What people don’t realise with trans non-binary people in the UK is it’s happening in the street. I’m being abused in the street verbally, more than I ever have”.

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The four-time Grammy winner went on to recount the moment they were “spat at” in the street.

“So that was the hardest part, being at home in the UK and having people shout at me in the street. Someone spat at me in the street, it was crazy.”

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When asked by Lowe how they felt in that moment, Smith said they felt for the younger generation of the LGBTQ+ community watching the homophobia on the sidelines.

“What I find hard about it is, if that’s happening to me and I’m famous – I’m a pop star – can you imagine what other queer kids are feeling? It’s just so sad that we are in 2023 and it’s still happening.” 

Sam Smith also compared their experiences presenting as a non-binary person between the US and the UK, explaining that they can “dress and be myself more” in cities such as New York and LA “than I can at home”.

Sam Smith performs outside White House. (Getty)
Sam Smith performs outside White House. (Getty)

Last December, the “Stay With Me” singer visited the White House for the historic signing of the Respect for Marriage act.

“Having Biden stand up and talk about trans people and how he sees them. I haven’t heard that in my own country from a politician,” they recalled.

In the UK, mainstream media and politicians have regularly taken an anti-trans stance. In May last year, the UK government decided non-binary legal recognition was too “complex” to introduce.

“I had people telling me the way I was living my life was affecting my record sales and that I was trash,” Smith shared.

These public experiences stand in stark contrast to their personal life, where their relationships are stronger than ever.

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“I feel lovable and comfortable in my skin, to wear what I want to wear, truly just joy in the abundance since changing my pronouns, it felt like a coming home,” they said.

For Smith, music has always been a refuge for their own struggles, particularly when they were bullied for being gay in their childhood.

“The idea of being a successful singer is where I would go to in my mind,” they explained. “It was a f**k you to the boys in school.

“That’s how I’m gonna get my power back, my voice back. It fuelled it, it’s how I got here.”

Smith’s Gloria is an ode to self-empowerment and showcases the joyous journey of discovery they’ve been on since releasing their 2017 album Thrill of It All.

The singer has been open about their struggles with body image. They revealed they “purposefully” chose an album cover for Thrill of It All where they looked “thin”, making it feel “dark and exhausted”.

It was halfway through their Thrill of It All that things began to “unravel”, and while working on being their true happy self, Gloria celebrates themselves in a way they never have before.

Gloria is available to stream now.

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