British crooner Sam Smith, who is up for six Grammy awards Sunday, has dedicated his new music video for “Lay Me Down” to “gay men and women and transgendered men and women all over the world.”
The video, released Thursday, features Smith marrying a man, in a church, in England. According to Rolling Stone, the fictional wedding took place at the parish church of St. Margaret, Lee – an Anglican church. While same-sex marriage has been legal in England since March of last year, it remains “illegal for the Churches of England and Wales to marry same-sex couples,” according to the Church of England’s website.
“We’re the first ever to do it,” Smith told Rolling Stone.
He premiered the video via his Facebook and Instagram accounts, with the accompanying message:
Dear all, The Lay Me Down music video holds a very dear place in my heart. With this video myself and Ryan Hope the director have decided to make a statement and showcase something we passionately believe in. This video shows my dreams that one day gay men and women and transgendered men and women all over the world, like all our straight families and friends, will be able to get married under any roof, in any city, in any town, in any village, in any country. I hope you enjoy it.
The decision to make a political statement with his music is a first for Smith. The 22-year-old initially opened up about his sexuality in an interview with Fader last summer, when he spoke about a male ex-lover who inspired his album “In the Lonely Hour.” In the 2014 interview, Smith made the point that he’s tried to be “clever” with his music, “so that it could be about anything and everybody – whether it’s a guy, a female or a goat.” In order to achieve this, Smith sticks to gender ambiguous pronouns in his lyrics. In a cover of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know,” for example, Smith intentionally replaces “he” with “you.”
In the Fader interview, Smith added, “I’m not in this industry to talk about my personal life unless it’s in a musical form.”
Smith has been widely criticized for this stance, which is seen by some as a concerted effort to appeal to the mainstream. For instance, a scathing 2014 Gawker piece by Rich Juzwiak accused Smith of so-called “gay conservatism.” Juzwiak took many jabs at Smith and argued that his ambiguous lyrics allow “small-minded people” to “continue to default on heteronormativity.” Msnbc reached out to Smith’s PR firm for comment on his new music video, but have not heard back at this time.
Smith’s decision to feature a same-sex wedding in a church in his new video, and to preface its premiere with a call for marriage equality is a big deal for the rising star – he has a huge, international fan base and is in the spotlight this week as the Grammy Awards approach.