English singing sensation Sam Smith on Sunday won an Oscar for his song from the latest James Bond film and dedicated the award to fellow gay people around the world.
The award is the latest for the fast-rising 23-year-old soul singer, who last year was the big winner at the music industry’s Grammy Awards.
Smith won best original song at Hollywood’s biggest night for “Writing’s on the Wall,” which was the theme to the spy thriller’s 2015 installment “Spectre.”
“I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world,” Smith said as he accepted the golden statuette.
“I stand here tonight as a proud gay man and I hope we can all stand together as equals one day,” he said.
Smith in his speech incorrectly stated that he was the first openly gay person to win an Oscar, apparently misreading remarks by British actor Ian McKellen on how straight people have repeatedly won the prize for portraying gay characters.
Smith, informed later that he misspoke, responded with a profanity to wide laughter.
“I wanted to show how much I care about my community. In the past in my career, people said I didn’t care. But I really do care about the LGBT community,” Smith, who has been particularly outspoken on gay rights in Russia, told reporters.
The award comes on a year that the Oscars faced heavy criticism over the dearth of African Americans in the nominations.
Oscars host Chris Rock, an African American who peppered the Oscars with biting humor about race, quipped after Smith’s acceptance speech: “Congratulations, no jokes there. Not going to get me in trouble.”
Smith was selected to sing for “Spectre” after a theme written by British experimental rockers Radiohead did not make the cut for unclear reasons.
Smith sang his nominated song at the Oscars along with other contenders — Lady Gaga and The Weeknd.
Lady Gaga performed “Till It Happens to You” about campus sexual assault, turning the performance into a rally against rape with survivors holding arms and US Vice President Joe Biden offering an introduction.
Another nominee for best song — Anohni, best known for leading the dark choral group Antony and the Johnsons — boycotted the Oscars after she was not asked to sing.
Anohni, who was born as Antony Hegarty, was the first transgender performer nominated for an Oscar and said she was overcome by “embarrassment and anger” at not being asked to perform her song “Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction,” a documentary on humans’ destruction of other species.
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