Why Sam Smith uproar proves that queer acceptance is still conditional

Why Sam Smith uproar proves that queer acceptance is still conditional

Hello 2023, hello same old bullshit

Well, this isn’t exactly the piece that I had in mind when I was planning on writing something for LGBTQIA+ history month. There will be no listicles of milestones, or the nostalgic ‘let’s see how far we’ve come’ narrative over here. Unfortunately, this is another piece delving into the war on rights for queer people. 

With that said, let’s explore what the actual fuck is going on right now. 

Because once again, as always, the UK mainstream media has joined hands with the queerphobic/fatphobic ‘outrage for the sake of being outraged’ brigade. Showing us that in fact, once we leave the comfortable pink padded eco-chamber of the queer experience in London, we’re faced with an ugly truth.

The harsh reality is that it still feels like more people than ever are going out of their way to get to us, to silence our voices and push us down when we’re loud and proud while unapologetically taking up space. 

Leave Sam Smith be 

You must have been living under a rock – or at least on a social media cleanse – if you haven’t seen the latest storm that Sam Smith’s new music video, ‘I’m not here to make friends’ has caused. 

Well actually, neither Sam nor the video caused anything. The Grammy award-winning, English singer-songwriter and pop-icon was simply being unashamedly queer. They embraced their true self, while dropping a sexy, entertaining, cool as fuck four minute long music video to accompany their latest hit. 

Full to the brim with camp fashion, the costumes, the dance, the outfit and the vibe is no different to any other pop/r&b music video of the same sort that we see time and time again on our screens. So what do these four minutes contain that made a journalist on Good Morning Britain call it ‘extreme hardcore pornography’?

Root of the issue

The star of the video is confidently embracing queer sexuality and expression with unlimited confidence, talent and charisma. All while simultaneously breaking down a wall in the house of heteronormative rhetoric minute by minute. That is what’s causing the unnecessary furore. 

People aren’t outraged that it’s overly sexual. They are outraged because it’s a non-binary person who dares to be bold and embrace that sexuality. People are outraged and offended because the video is overtly queer, body positive and sexual at the same time. 

The underlying issue here is queerphobia. If a thin, white, cis-woman wore the exact same outfit and expressed herself the same way, nobody would have a problem. We see content like this all the time yet how often is it described as outrageous let alone described as ‘extreme pornography’?

What’s really going on is that people who are offended don’t know what to do with their own discomfort. The media amplifies the voices of those who think the artistic expression of the non-binary pop icon is inappropriate and controversial. 

But ultimately, the problem is theirs and not Sam Smith’s 

The only history that matters

I would like to dedicate the remainder of this piece to the facts that are being lost in all of the media frenzy surrounding Sam Smith. I would like us to celebrate LGBTQIA+ history month by acknowledging loud and proud that:

Sam Smith and Kim Petras are the first openly transgender and non-binary artists to win a Grammy for Best Pop Duo Performance AND to chart no.1 on the Billboard 100 with their single ‘Unholy’

This is the only headline that matters. 

And to Sam, thank you for making history this month and thank you for changing the game.