Sam Smith got a lesson in fact-checking during the 88th annual Academy Awards on Sunday. The "Writing's on The Wall" singer took the stage alongside co-writer Jimmy Napes to accept the Oscar for best original song, at which time he delivered an emotional speech about being the first openly gay man to be awarded the prestigious honor — but was he?
Smith's comments were in reference to an article in the Guardian where Sir Ian McKellen, the acclaimed British actor, stated, incorrectly, that no openly gay man had won an Oscar in any category before. Tech Insider reports that McKellen — who has been twice nominated for Academy Awards but never won — was referring to just the best actor category, not the awards as a whole. Minutes after Smith’s acceptance speech, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black took to Twitter. Rather than extend a word of kindness or congratulate the singer on his win, Black, who won the Oscar for best original screenplay (“Milk”) in 2009, corrected him. He tweeted that if Smith, 23, truly had “no idea” who he was, he should perhaps consider not texting his fiancé, Olympic diver Tom Daley.
— Dustin Lance Black (@DLanceBlack) February 29, 2016
According to Entertainment Weekly, Smith learned of his mistake before Black’s tweet. In fact, he was informed by an unnamed reporter backstage that he was not the first gay male to win. EW reports that Smith’s response was “S---! F--- that!” He then added that two has always been a lucky number of his, insinuating that just one gay winner had come before him.
“Two’s my lucky number, so it’s all good,” he said. “Who was the other person?”
While Smith now knows he’s not the first Oscar winner from the LGBT community, he may be shocked to learn that he is also not the second — or third. In fact, Smith and Black included, seven gay men have won Academy Awards. Sir Elton John was the first openly gay star to win, taking home the award for his song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" from "The Lion King" in 1994.
Smith took the stage twice during the 88th annual Academy Awards. The first time he performed his single "Writing's on the Wall," for which he was nominated. Then he appeared to accept the award for the song, which was featured in the James Bond movie "Spectre." During his acceptance speech Smith said he'd read an article by McKellen which stated that no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar. The British musician claimed he was unsure whether that was true or not, but said that it was an honor to be accepting the award and dedicated it to "the LGBT community around the world." He added that he was standing before everyone "as a proud gay man" and was hopeful that one day everyone would be accepted as equal.
While EW reports that Smith learned his speech was not factually accurate shortly after delivering it, he has not yet spoken out about the error.