Sam Smith is finally becoming the gay icon we all deserve. Not only did he take home four Grammy’s at last awards, three of which were in the major categories — Best New Artist, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year — but he’s finally taking a stance on LGBT rights and using his immense talent and platform to make a statement. At last nights awards, he killed his performance, exuding swagger and confidence, and owned the Grammy stage, making him by far one of the most significant high profile Grammy winning artists ever. Why? Because he’s out and — finally, it seems — proud!
Sam Smith spent most of 2014 downplaying his sexuality, claiming he didn’t want that to be his defining characteristic, which, I totally get, but at the same time, it is a significant part of ones sense of self. Plus, pop music is dominated by straight men and women, that’s no secret, so seeing Sam Smith, a [quasi-]openly gay man sitting at the top of the charts and getting critical acclaim while doing so was significant. Or, at least, it could have been more so had been more vocal from the get-go.
No matter, though; that’s all in the past now. It seems that 2015 has seen Smith feeling a lot more comfortable in his own skin. He posed for Instagram photos with his ex-boyfriend/male model Jonathan Zeizel, he thanked the “man” his album is about at the Grammys for his Record of the Year win, and now he’s released the music video for his new single “Lay Me Down,” one of the most poignant and emotionally significant songs from his debut album In the Lonely Hour. From the moment I heard it, it was an instant favorite; the pain and longing in his voice is palpable and paired with the visuals, it almost becomes too much to bear. The video takes place entirely in a church; Smith is mourning the loss of a loved one, but it’s not really clear until halfway through that the loved one is his husband, when it flashes back to a wedding.
There’s such a profound message here, about how finite life is and how powerful love can be; it’s a simple narrative, a straight-forward story, but it’s truly significant because of Sam Smith’s impact. It’s clear that he’s finally stepping up and being true to himself as an artist, and a man. And his Grammy wins should prove to further his career and legitimize him as a force to be reckoned with, especially for the gay community.
Check out the video (and try not to get emotional) here:
As a bonus, here is Sam Smith’s flawless Grammy performance with Mary J. Blige. You know, in case you needed further feels: