B5 star Dustin Michael confirms partner is trans actor D Smith while condemning anti-trans violence

B5 star Dustin Michael (left) in a picture from Instagram, and his partner, trans actor and director D Smith (right)

Musician Dustin Michael has confirmed that his partner is trans actor and director D Smith while condemning the epidemic of violence against Black trans women in the US.

In a social media video today (10 May), the lead vocalist of R&B group B5 said he felt compelled to announce the relationship publicly following the recent killing of trans star Koko Da Doll, in the US state of Georgia.

Koko, also known as Rasheeda Williams, was found shot dead on 18 April in the south west area of the Atlanta.

A 17-year-old male has since been arrested in connection with the killing and remains in policy.

Williams was best known for featuring in the 2023 documentary Kokomo City, which was directed by Michael’s partner Smith.

Michael said that the killing of Williams had hit him “close to home”, and that as a man in a relationship with a trans woman, he wanted to make Smith “feel seen and loved without any conditions.”

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“I don’t want to be one of those men benefitting from a trans woman in private and not celebrate her publicly”, Michael said.

He explained: “As men, as Black men, we’re not allowing ourselves to love who we want to love openly without fearing being judged and shamed publicly.

“I feel that we’re taught as children that being emotionally or sexually ambiguous is wrong and that we learn to suppress certain feelings… We don’t never grow up and really learn to deal with them.”

Michael added that he believed young straight men were being forced to hide completely valid feelings and, as a result, are taking their frustrations out on marginalised members of the community.

The star said it was because of these incidents of violence against trans women that he wanted to make it clear to his girlfriend that she “has a place where she can feel safe”.

“I’m in a beautiful relationship with someone who makes me very happy,” he said. “She’s very sexy, very talented and, most of all, she has a beautiful, kind spirit, which I love.”

In an Instagram post, Smith, who is also known for starring in Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, said she is “so proud” of Michael for making the video.

“We’ve known each other for almost 10 years now and every moment with you was always validating,” she wrote. “So many men only dream of being as brave as you are.

“Thank you for being the example of a human just loving a human. I’m so grateful for your heart, ambition and spirit.”