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Sam Smith’s backstage faux pas about a two-time Academy Award winner who died from AIDS

I’m thinking Sam Smith is wishing that during his Oscars acceptance speech last night, he had simply declared himself a proud openly gay man and dedicated his award to the LGBT community and left it at that.

But his mistaken belief that he may have been the first openly gay man to win an Oscar has resulted in a lecture via Twitter from 2009 openly gay Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black about LGBT history.

It got even worse backstage.

Smith was told he wasn’t the first openly gay man to win an Oscar and he then said that perhaps he is second. Reporters told him he was not second either.

In the best original song category alone, openly gay men Elton John and Stephen Sondheim have won and lesbian Melissa Etheridge has also won.

In addition, openly gay songwriter Howard Ashman won in 1990 and 1992 for Best Original Song – the second time posthumously for the Disney animated movie Beauty and the Beast which was dedicated to his memory and was a best picture nominee that year.

Unaware that Ashman had died from complications from AIDS in 1991 at the age of 40, Smith joked: ‘I should know him. We should date.’

Below is video of Ashman’s partner, Bill Lauch, accepting the Oscar for him and telling the audience that they ‘shared a home and a life together.’

Said Lauch: ‘It is bittersweet. This is the first Academy Award given to someone we’ve lost to AIDS. In working on Beauty and the Beast, Howard faced incredible personal challenges but always gave his best. And what made that possible was an atmosphere of understanding, love and support. That’s something anyone facing AIDS not only needs but deserves.’

Two years earlier, Ashman has thanked Lauch and others while accepting with Menken the Original Song Oscar for Under The Sea from The Little Mermaid.

FILE UNDER: Awards, Controversy


(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

8 Remarks

  1. Do your homework, learn your history. The arrogance of thinking you’re “first” is stupefying.

  2. Sam Smith is forgiven. It was claimed he was drinking too much and he’s just an ignorant Brit.

  3. March 1st, 2016 at 9:59 am
    K. Martinez says:

    This isn’t the first faux pas Sam Smith’s committed. The guy just seems unworldly.

  4. March 1st, 2016 at 4:34 pm
    Gaspar Marino says:

    Young gay people today have no sense of gay history. Not grateful to those that fought the good fight to give them the opportunities they have today glad to see the acknowledgement of the great Howard. Ash man in your article

  5. He’s an idiot. But he’s young and will learn.

    DLB sounds like nothing more than a jackass though. And more than a bit controlling with that stupid comment about tweeting his BF.

  6. Sam is a young man and prone to mistakes. He has since learned his lesson and apologized and that’s fine with me. I’d rather save my wrath for those who deserve it.

  7. @Gaspar-I could not agree with you more. And it isn’t just gay history, it’s history in general. Wouldn’t it be great if every kid had to read ‘The Gay Revolution’ by Lillian Faderman. That book is brilliant and really gives you a through account of LGBT history.

  8. @Dennis@ K Martinez-He’s young, give him a break. Hell Elton John keeps fucking up and he should know better.

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