First transgender and nonbinary singers to win a Grammy inspires Queer community

Smith and Petras cover for their hit Unholy via Wikipedia

Smith and Petras’ cover for their hit “Unholy” via Wikipedia

Lexie Zitko, Staff Writer

Kim Petras and Sam Smith became the first openly trans and nonbinary artists to win a Grammy on Feb. 5 for their song “Unholy.” 

“Sam graciously wanted me to accept this award because I’m the first transgender woman to win this award,” Petras said during her acceptance speech. 

Petras thanked one of her idols Madonna for her support towards the community: “[thank you] Madonna for fighting for LGBTQ rights so much, I don’t think I could be here without Madonna.”

Petras also thanked her mother for supporting her through her transgender journey and her recently deceased friend for believing in her.

The 65th annual Grammy awards brought many inspiring wins, especially for many LGBTQ+ youth and adults. The night represented a big step in progression. 

Beyoncé even dedicated her win “Break My Soul” in the best dance/electronic recording category to the Queer community, “I’d like to thank the Queer community for your love, for inventing the genre. God bless you,” she said.

Despite the heat the LGBTQ+ community recently received around the restriction of drag shows, the Grammys still displayed Queer pride and accomplishments. The community has struggled with many attacks against their rights in the past year. 

Hate crimes are on the rise for all minority communities, but this specific win brought some light and hope for the LGBTQ+’s ability to be heard. 

States like Florida and Missouri are trying to pass policies that target the Queer community. Such as Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill’ against LGBTQ+ youth, causing them to struggle to feel safe in society. The Queer students at LFHS even feel the impact this had on the community.

“It’s a great progression towards advancing the rights of Queer youth!” said a junior who wished to remain anonymous. 

“I’m not sure the win itself is the most important, just the exposure of the song is more important than the actual win,” said English teacher and Alliance advisor Mr. John Wanninger. 

Wanninger explains why this exposure was such a big step in progression. He believes that the music of artists like Petras and Smith can ignite change for the LGBTQ+ community. 

“I think the presence of having a song that’s a duet with a transgender woman and a nonbinary singer to me is more significant than an award,” he said. “Perhaps we are moving towards a time where people just care about the music, not the identities of the singers.”

Since the controversial erasure of the Human Rights Club window drawings, the LGBTQ+ community has felt a loss for their support in Lake Forest. The Human Rights Club painted windows, just like any other club or team, with BLM and LGBTQ symbols. 

Not all Queer youth feel safe due to the controversial erasure of the windows. Complaints about these symbols resulted in their removal, making LGBTQ+ youth feel like their identities are still something to hide.  

Petras talked about the controversy of her performance “Unholy” and even compared the heat to Lil Nas X’s controversy stemming from his 2021 music video “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” 

Their performance wasn’t much different than other artists playing with the idea of religious imagery. Many believe that the argument that their religious imagery is offensive isn’t about religion but is truthfully against Smith and Petras’ Queer backgrounds. 

Many Queer icons in the music industry have been critiqued over their sexuality throughout history. Many also feel like this the first time the Queer community recieved historical recognition for their hard work. Petras and Smith made history.