Kim Petras, Sam Smith both make LGBTQ+ history

by Kris Harrell

The 2023 Grammy Awards was a night to remember. However, one event of the night stands out: Kim Petras making Grammy Awards history with her win for Best Pop Duo / Group Performance for “Unholy” with Sam Smith. 

With this win, Petras became the first openly transgender woman singer to win a Grammy. 

During her acceptance speech alongside Sam Smith, the artist highlighted the other transgender artists that paved the way for this win, including previous Grammy nominee Sophie Xeon (known by her first name Sophie).

Sophie, a transgender woman and songwriter, passed away two years before the 2023 Grammys. Sophie was nominated in 2019 for Best Dance / Electronic Album for her album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides.

“I just want to thank all the incredible transgender legends before me who kicked these doors open for me so I can be here tonight,” Petras said after winning the award. “Sophie especially – my friend who passed away two years ago – who told me this would happen, and always believed in me. Thank you so much for your inspiration, Sophie. I adore you.” 

Petras also thanked Madonna, a pop and LGBTQ icon, who later introduced the pair for their Grammy performance of “Unholy.”

Nearing the close of her speech, Petras thanked her mother for her support throughout her life, stating, “I grew up next to a highway in ‘Nowhere’, Germany and my mother believed me that I was a girl. I wouldn’t be here without her and her support.”  

This is Petras’ first Grammy nomination and win of her career. Her collaborator, Sam Smith, has previously won four Grammy’s. In 2015, Smith won Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album for their album, In the Lonely Hour, and Record of the Year and Song of the Year for their song “Stay with Me.” This is their first grammy win since coming out as nonbinary in 2019.

However, this duo is not only making history on the Grammy stage. With “Unholy” reaching number one on Billboard’s hot 100 charts in late October 2022, Petras and Smith are now the first transgender and nonbinary artists to reach number one. 

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