No, Sam Smith is not the first gay person to win an Oscar. Here's a list:
The list of LGBTI winners is actually far bigger than you might expect
‘I read an article a few months ago by Sir Ian McKellen, and he said that no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar, and if this is the case, even if it isn’t the case, I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world,’ Sam Smith said in his speech when he took home the award for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.
The gay singer, who won for the Spectre theme Writing’s On The Wall, must be feeling slightly embarrassed right now. Not only did he misquote McKellen, who was specifically talking about openly gay people winning Best Actor, but that a number of LGBTI people have won Oscars in the past.
And then, when he was told he was not the first gay person to win one, he then said:
‘I had something in my head… I think I’m the secondly openly gay person to win it.’
Here’s a list:
Marlon Brando (1954 Best Actor – On The Waterfront)
‘Homosexuality is so much in fashion, it no longer makes news,’ he said in 1976. ‘Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences, and I am not ashamed. I have never paid much attention to what people think about me. But if there is someone who is convinced that Jack Nicholson and I are lovers, may they continue to do so. I find it amusing.’
Alec Guinness (1957 Best Actor – The Bridge on The River Kwai)
Convicted of a ‘homosexual act’ in 1946, he managed to keep his bisexuality private for most of his life. He was outed after his death as bisexual by friends and colleagues.
George Cukor (1964 Best Director – My Fair Lady)
George Cukor’s homosexuality was an open secret. He was the head of Hollywood’s gay sub-culture for a long time and his home was the site of gay parties in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. When he was arrested on vice charges, MGM studio executives had the records expunged and the incident was never publicized.
John Schlesinger (1969 Best Director – Midnight Cowboy)
The story of a country boy going to New York City to become a male prostitute, with a lot of gay themes, remains the only X-rated film to win the Best Picture Oscar.
Joel Grey (1972 Best Supporting Actor – Cabaret)
‘I don’t like labels,’ Joel Grey said, coming out in 2015. ‘But if you have to put a label on it, I’m a gay man.’
John Gielgud (1981 Best Supporting Actor – Arthur)
John Gielgud was arrested in 1953 in London for cruising in a public lavatory. While he kept himself highly discreet and was closeted a lot of his life, he privately made donations to gay campaign groups and openly spoken in admiration of out actors Simon Callow and Ian McKellen.
Linda Hunt (1983 Best Supporting Actress – The Year Of Living Dangerously)
Linda Hunt has lived with her wife, Karen Klein, since 1987. They married in 2008.
Bill Condon (1988 Best Adapted Screenplay – Gods & Monsters)
Gods & Monsters is about a gay retired film director played by Ian McKellen having a fascination with a young, straight gardener played by Brendan Fraser.
Jodie Foster (1988 and 1991 Best Actress – The Accused and Silence of the Lambs)
Jodie Foster sort of came out in her Golden Globes speech in 2013, even if she didn’t actually use the words gay or lesbian.
Howard Ashman (1989 and 1991 Best Original Song – Beauty And The Beast and Under The Sea)
Lyricist Howard Ashman co-wrote numerous songs for Disney, including Beauty and The Beast, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Beauty and The Beast was dedicated to Ashman, a gay man who died from AIDS in 1991.
Stephen Sondheim (1990 Best Original Song – Sooner Or Later I Always Get My Man)
‘It was never easy being a homosexual,’ the legendary musical songwriter said in his 1998 biography. ‘Everybody knew the theater was full of homosexuals, but nobody admitted to being so.’
Elton John (1994 Best Original Song – Can You Feel The Love Tonight)
John Corigliano (1999 Best Original Score – The Red Violin)
In 1987, John Corigliano composed his first symphony – inspired by the AIDS epidemic and the friends he lost.
Pedro Almodóvar (1999 Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay – All About My Mother, 2002 Best Original Screenplay – Talk To Her)
Pedro Almodóvar is no stranger to camp, with many of his films delving into fluid sexuality, gay love triangles and irreverent humor.
Alan Ball (2000 Best Original Screenplay – American Beauty)
True Blood and Six Feet Under creator may be well known for his Kevin Spacey starring American Beauty, but he is also a LGBTI rights activist and same-sex marriage advocate.
Melissa Etheridge (2006 Best Original Song – I Need To Wake Up)
Melissa Etheridge won the Oscar for her song for An Inconvenient Truth. ‘This is the only naked man that will ever be in my bedroom!’ she said, after winning the award.
Dustin Lance Black (2008 Best Original Screenplay – Milk)
Gay rights activist and fiancé to Tom Daley. Raised Mormon, he has dedicated his life to fighting for LGBTI equality.
Sam Smith (2015 Best Original Song – Writing’s On The Wall)
So see Sam Smith, you’re not alone.
Did we miss any? We didn’t include those in the technical awards as, otherwise, the list might’ve got a bit too long. Let us know about any others in the comments.