You’ve probably seen by now the “oh no you betta don’t!” Twitter shaming of Sam Smith, the out pop star who won an Oscar on Sunday night for best song for “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre. In case you didn’t, during his acceptance speech, he said that he heard Ian McKellen say that no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar. (That is patently incorrect, although not entirely wrong in the context of actors who were out when they won.) He then went on to say this: “If that’s the case, even if it isn’t the case, I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world. I stand here tonight as a proud gay man and I hope we can all stand together as equals one day.”
Even though he was wrong on the facts, consider that sentiment: Unity, openness, pride. Here he was, taking his 45 seconds of impromptu acceptance to speak out about acceptance. A misstep, but his heart was in the right place.
Only Dustin Lance Black was having none of it.
He’s the out screenwriter who won an Oscar for Milk a few years ago. And even before Black, there was Bill Condon who won for writing Gods & Monsters. And songwriting Oscars are full of them: Howard Ashman won for writing several Disney songs as did Elton John, and Stephen Sondheim has the gold boy as well. There are many. But Black couldn’t take Smith at his sentiment, rather than his historical accuracy. Instead, he put on his Bitter Queen Hat and sent out this passive-aggressive tweet: “If you have no idea who I am it may be time to stop texting my fiance.” He then linked to his own Oscar acceptance speech.
A few days ago, Black dismissed the twitter feud as “a joke.” As a professional writer, he should have a better sense for what’s funny. Because instead of doing as Sam Smith was saying, we not only didn’t stand arm-in-arm with our straight allies, but we fed on each other. None of the other Twitter slogs who shamed Smith came out so forcefully against McKellen when he made the comment in a magazine some months back, because that missed the point. Yes, some actors have won Oscars who we now know are gay. But what is the barrier to that? Why can’t Smith be out and proud and not be attacked by other gay people for exhorting acceptance? Can’t we just say how hot Sam Smith is and be done with it?
Oh, and Dustin — tell your fiance there’s a “block” function on his smartphone if he doesn’t want tweets from Sam Smith.