Dustin Lance Black Calls Out Sam Smith for Believing He Is the First Openly Gay Man to Win Oscar


It’s important to know your history.

Thanks to his hit “Writing’s on the Wall” (from the latest James Bond movie,Spectre), Sam Smith won the award for Best Original Song at the 2016 Oscars, beating out The Weeknd‘s “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey and Lady Gaga‘s “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground. In his acceptance speech, the singer, 23, said, “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. 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.”

Noble as his intentions were, Smith was misinformed. For starters, when McKellen spoke to the U.K.’s The Guardian in January, he was referring to openly gay actors—not openly gay winners in other categories. “No openly gay man has ever won the Oscar; I wonder if that is prejudice or chance,” McKellen said, later adding, “My speech has been in two jackets: ‘I’m proud to be the first openly gay man to win the Oscar.’ I’ve had to put it back in my pocket twice.”

Worse yet, Melissa Etheridge, another openly gay singer, won the very same award as Smith did in 2007. Elton John did it in 1994, and Stephen Sondheim did it, too, in 1991. Classical composer John Corigliano won Best Original Score for The Red Violin in 1999, and songwriter Howard Ashman won Best Original Song twice before he died from AIDS complications in 1991.

Openly gay winners can be found in non-musical categories, too. Arthur‘s Sir John Gielgud won Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1981, for example. Gods and MonstersBill Condon won Best Adapted Screenplay in 1999, American Beauty‘sAlan Ball won Best Original Screenplay in 2000, and Talk to Her‘s Pedro Almodóvar won Best Original Screenplay in 2002. Scott Rudin won for producing Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men in 2008. Most recently, in 2009, Dustin Lance Black won Best Original Screenplay for Milk. In fact, the writer/director was among the first to call out Smith on Twitter. “Hey @SamSmithWorld, if you have no idea who I am, it may be time to stop texting my fiancé,” he wrote, referring to Olympic diver Tom Daley. Linking to a video of his acceptance speech from the 81st Annual Academy Awards, he said, “Here’s a start.”


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