Sam Smith receives backlash


Non-binary singer-songwriter Sam Smith has recently been the target of extreme bullying among many social media communities, especially Twitter, raising concern about the prejudice that the public still holds towards LGBTQ individuals. 

Ever since Smith released their music video “I’m Not Here to Make Friends” on Jan. 28, an explicit celebration of queer sexuality, they have been facing significant backlash and criticism across the Internet. Starting with a narration by American drag queen RuPaul, the music video features Smith wearing high-heel boots, corsets, dresses, as well as other representations of androgynous individuals.

“I loved how Sam featured RuPaul’s voice in the beginning of their video ‘I’m Not Here to Make Friends,’” Jennie Koh (11), fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Sam Smith. “I was surprised to hear his familiar voice, and I enjoyed the rest of the video as well.”

Essentially, their music video is just like any other explicitly sexual heterosexual media. Yet Smith became the victim of transphobia, fatphobia, and queerphobia.

As Smith’s figure is one that can be described as “fat” and not the typical idealized body of many other pop stars, many people have been expressing distaste in their exposure of skin in the video and have been urging them to cover up. People are still stuck in the perception that revealing clothing is reserved for thin, heterosexual women, and those who do not fit this category must wear something that hides their body shape in order to seem flattering. 

Smith also shocked the public with an inflated suit outfit at the Brit Awards, a black latex suit with huge sleeves on the arms and balloon-like pants. This outfit, designed by London designer Harikrishnan, also known as Harri, received mixed reviews. While Smith’s fans supported most, if not all of their fashion items, many were still unable to overcome the unfamiliar, foreign design of this outfit, which they found to be rather unappealing. 

“I personally didn’t like their inflated suit outfit because I feel like it had a strange shape and it was a design I’ve never seen before,” Jennie said. “I’m completely supportive of their choices to go against masculinity and I usually think their fashion is very pretty, but just not this time.”

Smith and Kim Petra’s Grammys performance of their song “Unholy” instigated criticism on many online communities. Smith’s outfit featured devil horns, and the whole stage was designed to closely resemble hell. This choice angered many people, especially some politicians, such as Ted Cruz, who tweeted “This…is…evil” in response to a video of the performance. Meanwhile, the collaboration between the two artists awarded them the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, making Kim Petra the first transgender person to win this award. 

Meanwhile, people’s bigotry towards Smith simply for being themselves—a non-binary, gay individual—spread beyond the Internet and to real life. Smith was spotted in New York City being verbally harassed by a woman, who yelled, “You belong in hell. Sam Smith belongs in hell. You demonic, twisted, sick bastard.” She continued to yell vile insults at him, accusing him of being a “groomer” and a “pedophile.” 

“It is really sad to see that even someone as successful and accomplished as Sam Smith can still face such intense discrimination and hate because of their sexuality and body size,” Kate Kim (11), fan of pop music, said. “We should stand up against queerphobia and fatphobia and create a more accepting, inclusive environment for everyone regardless of their size, shape, or sexual orientation.”