© Louie Banks

GQ Heroes

Sam Smith talks about being nonbinary: ‘It was a torture going on in my mind’

The pop star opened up about feeling he was beyond the gender binary earlier this year and GQ spoke to him to find out more. Read the full interview in our GQ Heroes issue

When Sam Smith came out as non-binary earlier this year, it was a brave move from a pop star who was already trying to navigate being a gay musician. It also opened up ire from the usual sources, who find any person expressing a belief that they don't define as either a “man” or a “woman” as a personal attack on the very fabric of western society.

When GQ spoke to Smith for our GQ Heroes issue, he had already talked about his experience in an interview with Jameela Jamil. It was the latest instance of him saying that he felt – to quote a Sunday Times Culture piece from 2017 – “as much a woman as I am a man”.

“Some days I've got my manly side and some days I've got my womanly side, but it's when I'm in the middle of that switch I get really, really depressed and sad,” he explained to GQ. “Because I don't know who I am or where I am or what I'm doing and I feel very misunderstood by myself. I realised that's because I don't fit into either.”

Smith is still sticking with he/him at the moment for pronouns – “I'm also asking a few people close to me to say they and them,” he said, “I only learned a few weeks ago that you can have both” – and is on a journey to learn more about what it means to be part of this community.

“If anyone is reading this, please forgive me if I get this wrong because I really am learning,” said Smith. “It feels like a new conversation but I'm now learning it isn't a new conversation and it's been around for so long.”

But, so far, it’s been a positive experience for him. “I was with my mum last night and she said something so beautiful. ‘I'm so relieved that you and me and your whole family have a way to explain this,’ she said, ‘because it's also been eating me up your whole life.’ Because my mum could see it and that it was a torture going on in my mind.

“If anyone in a situation can help kids out there it's really important to do that and speak about it,” he told GQ for our cover interview. “I want to speak about my learning experience and what I'm figuring out in case that helps in some way. It helps me as well. Talking about it helps.”

Download to read the full GQ Heroes issue and interview with Sam Smith now

© Louie Banks

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Read more:

Sam Smith: ‘My hero is Frida Kahlo’

What to do if your friend comes out as nonbinary

Sam Smith: all his best outfits

Everything you need to know about GQ HEROES

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