Is Sam Smith Really The First Openly Gay Man To Win An Oscar?

Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images.
Update: Ian McKellen corrected Sam Smith on Twitter, while also congratulating the singer.
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This post was originally published February 29 at 12:45 a.m.


Sam Smith dedicated his Oscar to the LGBT community when he accepted the award for Best Original Song for "Writing's On The Wall." But his facts weren't quite right.

"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," Smith said in his speech. "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. I stand here tonight as a proud gay man and I hope we can all stand as equals one day."

Smith did note that he might be wrong — and well, he is. McKellen did tell The Guardian: "No openly gay man has ever won the Oscar; I wonder if that is prejudice or chance." McKellen, however, was referring to Best Actor. Openly gay men have won in other categories, including Smith's.

Howard Ashman won the prize posthumously in 1992 for "Beauty and the Beast" after dying of AIDS. His partner accepted his award. (Ashman had accepted the trophy in 1990 for "Under The Sea.") In 1995, Sir Elton John took home the same prize for "Can You Feel The Love Tonight." John came out in 1988.

Meanwhile, Dustin Lance Black won the Oscar for Original Screenplay for Milk in 2009. When Black won, he said: "When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas, to California; and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life, it gave me the hope to one day live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married."

Refinery29 told Smith he wasn't actually the first openly gay Oscar winner in the press room following his win. "Shit. Fuck that," he responded. When asked whether he thinks that's positive news, Smith remarked, "Two's my lucky number, so it's all good."

In response to another journalist's question, Smith said: "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. I just wanted to make [it] clear how much I truly do care about the LGBT community. At the same time I'm just, we're just, completely overwhelmed... I'm a little bit drunk as well."
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