Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham slammed the author of an Arts & Leisure profile of Sam Smith in a letter to the paper’s editor on Thursday, saying the profile’s opening paragraph, which detailed Smith’s propensity to cry, perpetuated “the stereotype about gay men as hysterics.” And did it “disdainfully.”
He cried when he talked about the house he grew up in; when he reminisced about a crush who turned on him; when he talked about his first voice teacher. He cried when he talked about writing “Pray,” a song from his new album, “The Thrill of It All.” He cried when he talked about the children he met in Mosul, Iraq, on a recent humanitarian mission, and then he looked down at the sparrow tattoo he got on his arm when he returned home, with “Be good, be kind” written in Arabic beneath it, and he cried again. He cried talking about how much he cried when he watched the movie “Inside Out.” And he cried when he talked about love. When he talked about love, he leaned back on the couch with his limbs splayed and looked upward as if he died momentarily just considering a concept so big.
The crying description goes on for another full paragraph.
“I can’t help wondering if there’s any connection between Mr. Smith’s sexuality and the implication that what’s most important for readers to know about him is that he cries a lot.”
Cunningham added that not only did he find the stereotyping “unfortunate” but also the interviewer’s shaming of a celebrity “so candid about his experience of being shamed for his openness about his sexuality.”