Sam Smith continued their year of personal and professional triumphs Wednesday night when they were named the 2019 Person of the Year at the Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards in London.
The four-time Grammy winner appeared jubilant as they walked the red carpet in a custom-designed green lace kimono by Menagerié Intimates. Things took a poignant turn, however, when they delivered an emotional speech reflecting on their recent strides toward living authentically as a genderqueer and nonbinary person.
In September, Smith announced they were embracing the gender neutral pronouns “they” and “them.” Prior to that announcement, the 27-year-old had been speaking about their gender identity in greater detail in various interviews.
During their speech on Wednesday, Smith wiped away tears and described the moment as “overwhelming.”
“The last year has been a wild ride of self-realization and has almost felt like a second coming out,” they said. “The reason I’ve been able to show all of the sides of myself to the public and express myself in these ways is because I felt incredibly safe.”
Smith went on to thank a number of high-profile LGBTQ community members, including writer Tom Rasmussen and transgender model Munroe Bergdorf, for offering support throughout their journey.
“Let’s live as loudly and queerly as humanly possible,” Smith added.
The singer-songwriter’s newfound confidence has already impacted their music. Earlier this week, they teased fans on Instagram, showing themself at work in the studio.
Speaking to “The Zach Sang Show” on Tuesday, they said their next album would delve further into the dance-oriented sound of their latest single, “How Do You Sleep?”
“I feel like I have recently shown people a side of me which I normally keep to myself or for my family and friends,” Smith said on the radio show. “I feel like it’s almost given me permission to kinda do what I’ve always dreamed of doing but I was always scared to do, which is pop music. I love pop music so much.”
Watch Sam Smith’s full Attitude Awards speech below.