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Sam Smith apologizes after saying he’s the first openly gay Oscar winner

Singer Sam Smith, right, and composer Jimmy Napes

Singer Sam Smith, right, and composer Jimmy Napes accept their Oscar for best song on Sunday. Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Mark Ralston

Singer-songwriter Sam Smith apologized Monday for erroneously claiming at the Academy Awards ceremony that his win for best original song may have been the first Oscar for an openly gay man.

“So hungover. genuinely feels like a dream,” tweeted Smith, who with co-writer Jimmy Napes won for “Writing’s on the Wall” from the James Bond movie “Spectre.” “Second openly gay man to win an oscar or third or fourth or 100th, It wasn’t my point,” he insisted, “My point was to shine some light on the LGBT community who i love so dearly.”

He then apologized to openly gay original screenplay Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black (2008’s “Milk”), who on Sunday had tweeted, “Hey Sam Smith, if you have no idea who I am, it may be time to stop texting my fiancé,” referring to Olympic diver Tom Daley, with whom Smith is friends.

“Apologies for the mix up @DLanceBlack,” Smith, 23, tweeted Monday. “I’ll be sure to check out your films now x Belated Congrats on the Oscar x.” Black responded, “Congratulations. Drink water. Rest. But do check out some of the other Gay Oscar work out there. Some truly wonderful stuff.”

Smith in his acceptance speech had said, “I read an article a few months ago by Sir Ian McKellen and he said that no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar, and if this is the case, even if it isn’t the case, I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world.”

Sir Ian in the Jan. 25 article in the UK newspaper The Guardian had been speaking only of the award for best actor. Nonetheless, the two-time Oscar-nominee tweeted on Monday that while “I’d said no openly gay actor had received Oscars — that doesn’t detract from Sam Smith’s achievement. Congratulations to him & all others!”

Openly gay Oscar-winners have included fellow best original song recipients Howard Ashman (1986’s “The Little Mermaid,” posthumously for 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast”) and Elton John (1994’s “The Lion King”), as well best picture producer Scott Rudin (2007’s “No Country for Old Men”) and best original screenplay winner Pedro Almodóvar (2002’s “Talk to Her”), among others. Some gay winners, such as best supporting actor Sir John Gielgud (1981’s “Arthur”), had not publicly identified as gay at the time.

The 34.3 million viewers who tuned in to the Academy Awards represented that annual ceremony’s smallest audience since 2008, The Associated Press reports. The Nielsen company said Monday that Oscar viewership was down from the 37.3 million who watched the ABC show in 2015. In 2014 and 2013, the show reached more than 40 million viewers each year. The ceremony, hosted by Chris Rock, came amid controversy about a lack of diversity among the nominees and calls for a boycott among some minority fans. There was no immediate way to judge whether the controversy affected ratings, or whether other factors held the audience down.

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