Shawn Mendes apologises to Sam Smith for misgendering them at Jingle Ball
12th December 2020

Shawn Mendes has apologised to Sam Smith after misgendering them at the Jingle Ball.

Both stars performed at Thursday night’s iHeartRadio holiday special, which aired online and on the iHeartRadio and The CW apps and is set to be broadcast on Monday night on The CW.

However, while introducing Sam’s performances of Diamonds and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Shawn, 22, used masculine pronouns while talking about the singer, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.

Shawn said: ‘I’m super excited to announce the next iHeartRadio Jingle Ball performer, and his new album Love Goes is out right now and it’s absolutely incredible. And he is one of the sweetest and kindest and funniest people I’ve ever met. Please welcome the incredibly talented Sam Smith.’

The error was called out on social media by fans, who said that while Shawn likely didn’t use the wrong pronouns maliciously, he should apologise to Sam.

The Stitches singer issued an apology to Sam on his Instagram story, writing: ‘Oh @samsmith I’m so sorry for referring to you as a “he” for your Jingle Ball introduction.

‘It absolutely slipped my mind. Wont happen again…Sending you so much love! Also you are absolutely one of the funniest people I’ve ever met!’

Sam, 28, took the error in their stride and accepted Shawn’s apology, replying: ‘We’re all learning together. Happy holidays, all my love xx.’

LGBTQ+ organisations advise that if you accidentally misgender somebody by using the wrong pronouns, the best way to handle the situation is to apologise and correct yourself. 

While Sam accepted the apology, fans questioned why the misgendering was not corrected before airing, as the introductions and performances were pre-recorded for the Jingle Ball from different locations. 

The Dancing With A Stranger singer announced last September that they were non-binary and that they use they/them pronouns.

They wrote on social media: ‘Today is a good day so here goes. I’ve decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out. I’m so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I’ve been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*** it!

‘I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you.’

Speaking on The Late Late Show last month, Sam said that while they received a lot of support, they also found the backlash they received a ‘struggle’.

The Grammy and Oscar winner explained: ‘It’s been amazing but it’s also really, really hard to see all the backlash and the amount of people that are still so unsupportive of gender non-conforming people and trans people all around the world.  

‘It’s definitely more of a struggle than I was expecting, but I feel good in my skin which is the prize and the wonderful thing.’

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