Thu | Jul 18, 2019

Gay singers win awards, too. Deal with it.

Published:Monday | February 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Michael Abrahams, Online Columnist

Heartache and heartbreak are excellent sources of material for penning hit songs.

Grammy Albums of the Year 'Rumors' by Fleetwood Mac, 'Jagged Little Pill' by Alanis Morisette, 'Fearless' by Taylor Swift, and '21' by Adele all contained and were driven by songs inspired by failed relationships.

British singer Sam Smith's album 'In The Lonely Hour' was also influenced by heartache, and he was nominated for six Grammy Awards this year for work from that collection. He took home four awards, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year for the song 'Stay With Me'.

In accepting one of the awards, Smith did something that is not uncommon at these events: he mentioned the inspiration for the album. He said, "Just a quick one: I want to thank the man who this record is about who I fell in love with last year. Thank you so much for breaking my heart, because you got me four Grammys."

If you were watching the Grammys on TVJ, you would not have heard that statement in its entirety, as the station muted much of Smith's remarks, leading many to ask, "Was censoring those comments really necessary?"

Smith happens to be gay. But so what? Many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are not only singers and musicians, but excel at their craft and are rewarded with accolades, including Grammy, American Music and Billboard Music awards.

Grammy awardees such as Elton John, George Michael, Ricky Martin, Melissa Etheridge, Lady Gaga and Frank Ocean have all been open about their sexuality, which is not straight. In addition, there are award-winning straight recording artistes, such as Macklemore, who are very vocal in their defence of the community and the rights of its members.

So censoring a gay recording artiste for recognising his inspiration can not only be viewed as bigoted, but also ridiculously hypocritical. I have seen interviews on the same station where persons have spoken of being involved in criminal activities, from gun crimes to prostitution, without being censored. The station has also broadcast programmes depicting other 'sexual sins' such as fornication and adultery, as well as rape, assault and battery and murder.

It is actions like these that affect and offend the LGBT community, and when its members speak out against such prejudiced behaviour, many persons become uncomfortable and wish that they would just shut up and go away.

But whether you like it or not, they are not going anywhere, and if you intend to watch awards shows and be entertained, you had better brace yourself for hearing more about LBGT people and their relationships and lives. You will see not only singers and players of instruments, but Emmy Award-winning actors such as Jim Parsons, Neil Patrick Harris and Ellen DeGeneres, and Academy Award winners like Jodie Foster.

This is not about promoting, encouraging or celebrating queer sexual orientations. It is about people living their lives and being true to themselves. It is about being mature enough to understand that members of the LGBT community are human beings who deserve respect and do not deserve their relationships being invalidated. It is about tolerance.

So, if a television station displays such an attitude towards gays, it would be appropriate to not seek exclusive rights to broadcast programmes where people are likely to make any mention of their orientation. Neil Patrick Harris will be hosting the Oscars later this month. I hope that I will be able to watch it on ABC.

Michael Abrahams is a gynaecologist and obstetrician, comedian and poet. Email feedback to and, or tweet @mikeyabrahams.