"I read an article a few months ago by Sir Ian McKellen and he said that no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar, and if this is the case, even if it isn't the case, I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world," Smith said in his speech. "I stand here tonight as a proud gay man, and I hope we can all stand together as equals one day."
Backstage, Smith reacted to winning on a night of diversity, during a year when there was an increase in LGBT visibility with films like "Carol" and "The Danish Girl": "It means the world to me. When I read the Ian McKellen piece, I was just bowled over by it, and I wanted to take this opportunity to show how much I care about my community. In the past in my career, people have said at the beginning that I didn't and stuff, and I just wanted to make it clear how much I truly do care about the LGBT community."
It was a moving speech, and a worthy sentiment, but Smith was far from the first openly gay man to win an Oscar. As The Hollywood Reporter noted, "Elton John, Dustin Lance Black, Howard Ashman, and Scott Rudin were all openly gay when they accepted their Oscars. John and Ashman both won best original song Oscars, as have fellow openly gay artists Melissa Etheridge (in 2007 for 'I Need To Wake Up' from An Inconvenient Truth) and Stephen Sondheim."
Sir Ian, being simply The Best at all times, kept things positive when gently correcting Smith on his own original quote:
Smith responded to McKellen:
@IanMcKellen Thank you Ian xx I am a huge fan xx Sorry for the hiccup.— Sam Smith (@samsmithworld) February 29, 2016
However, some viewers were more frustrated with Smith, and called him out for being oblivious of history. Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black issued a couple of sharp tweets:
THE POINT: knowing our LGBTQ history is important. We stand on the shoulders of countless brave men and women who paved the way for us.— Dustin Lance Black (@DLanceBlack) February 29, 2016
Smith replied to Black, and further tried to bring attention back to the intentions of his speech:
Apologies for the mix up @DLanceBlack I'll be sure to check out your films now x Belated Congrats on the Oscar x— Sam Smith (@samsmithworld) February 29, 2016
Second openly gay man to win an oscar or third or fourth or 100th, It wasn't my point.— Sam Smith (@samsmithworld) February 29, 2016
My point was to shine some light on the LGBT community who i love so dearly.— Sam Smith (@samsmithworld) February 29, 2016
Ultimately, whether from being sick of the online chatter or just to celebrate privately, Smith announced that he was temporarily stepping away from Twitter:
I'm logging off for a while. Some Martinis shaken not stirred are definitely in order.— Sam Smith (@samsmithworld) March 1, 2016
Sometimes it's best just to leave the Twitterverse to itself. Hopefully he's now enjoying his moment in peaceand quiet -- or out partying with Sir Ian McKellen.
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