Sam Smith has opened up about the difference in how they’ve been treated as a non-binary person in the U.K. vs. the U.S. On a recent episode of Apple Music podcast The Zane Lowe Show, the English singer revealed that they had been spat at in the street in their home country.
Host Lowe asked about Smith’s experience since coming out as non-binary in 2019. Smith, whose new album Gloria is out now, said that their personal life has been filled with joy, fulfillment, and support. “Since changing my pronouns, it’s felt like a coming home,” they said. “I wish I knew what the words were when I was in school, because I would have identified as that in school… It is who I am and it’s who I’ve always been.”
Their life in the public eye has been a different story, however.
“The amount of hate and s**tness that came my way was just exhausting and it was really hard,” they explained. “This isn’t me, like, sitting at home googling my name and seeing things.”
“I can deal with not googling myself, not reading comments. That’s something I can control,” they continued. “What people don’t realize with trans non-binary people in the U.K. is it’s happening in the street. I’m being abused in the street verbally, more than I ever have.”
“So that was the hardest part, I think, was being at home in the UK and, like, having people shout at me in the street,” Smith said. “Someone spat at me in the street, it was crazy.”
Smith said they worry about how much worse younger LGBTQ+ people have it. “If that’s happening to me and I’m famous – I’m a pop star – can you imagine what other kids, like queer kids, are feeling? It’s just so sad, like, that we’re in 2023 and it’s still happening. Especially in England.”
While the U.S has seen a wave of anti-transgender legislation recently, the U.K. has its own particular streak of virulent anti-trans sentiment—perhaps most famously epitomized by Harry Potter author JK Rowling.
“It’s been crazy to, like, be in New York and L.A., because I feel like I can dress and be myself more in these cities than I can at home. That’s a wild feeling because America’s a complex place.”
Smith recently sang at the White House ceremony celebrating President Joe Biden’s signing of the Respect for Marriage Act. They recalled what it felt like to hear the president talk about seeing and acknowledging the dignity and rights of trans people.
“We need to challenge the hundreds of callous and cynical laws introduced in the states targeting transgender children,” Biden said in his remarks at the December 13, 2022, event. “We have to protect these children so they know they are loved and that we will stand up for them and so they can seek for themselves.”
“I haven’t heard that in my own country from a politician,” Smith said.