One of the most talked-about performances of the 65th Grammy Awards came courtesy of Sam Smith and Kim Petras with their award-winning single “Unholy,” which Petras further celebrated as a huge win for transgender artists.
“Unholy” won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, and Smith asked that Petras accept the award. The British singer took the opportunity to thank the performers who came before, paving the way for the new crop of artists.
Petras thanked Madonna and “all the incredible transgender legends before me who kicked these doors open for me so I could be here tonight,” including the late electronic artist/producer SOPHIE. Petras also said, “This is a huge moment for me, Sam. Thank you. You are a true angel and hero in my life, and I love you.”
The “Unholy” performer also had words of praise for Smith in the days leading up to the Grammys, saying during an interview, “Honestly, the world doesn’t deserve Sam. Sam’s just such an angel and sweet person, and so talented. … This is a very magical collaboration, in the way that we have both experienced the same things — we both grew up in Europe being artistic queer kids, and we share some of the same stories of being spit on in the street or being insulted every day in school.”
“Sam’s been a light in my life for years and very supportive, and it’s nice to have someone who goes through some of the same things I go through to talk to about this stuff,” Petras continued. “Every time we’re onstage together, I just feel really safe and like I can fully be myself. So, this has been lovely.”
Petras talked about transitioning after an alleged suicide attempt at “five years old” following incidents of gender confusion, per Yahoo.
“It is really a crazy thing to think that I started transitioning almost 20 years ago. It was not a thing. It was not accepted. I was really a joke in German media. I mean, that’s why I left Germany, because they did a bunch of documentaries about me,” the artist said.
“I was just like, ‘I want to help other people,’ but then they detonated me on TV and called me a ‘transvestite’ and all of those things. So, I never really had a chance in Germany. I moved to L.A. as soon as I was old enough, where the only thing that mattered was: ‘Can you write songs? Can you sing?’”
While Petras expressed gratitude for the support, the singer also claimed to be “anti-label.”
“My achievement is being a good musician, where it’s not about being transgender,” the “Unholy” singer insisted. “Even though I think it’s really important that there’s visibility, I also think it’s really important that people in general are seen not for their gender, not for their sexuality, but for their insides. I think the world would be a much better place if we didn’t say, ‘Is this a woman? Is this a man?’ We limit ourselves; we put ourselves in boxes.”
“I think everybody is a person that deserves to be respected equally, and that includes trans people, gay people, all kinds of people. I’m very anti-label. I just think every person is their own special, unique being.”
Petras and Smith were slammed online for the “demonic,” hell-themed Grammys performance of the song “Unholy,” which is about a father abandoning his family at home to visit a sex club.