Is Sam Smith the First Openly Gay Pop Icon? Billboard Says Yes

Elton John may have had gay rumors following him from his early days. Even David Bowie proudly declared his bisexuality, and we all know George Michael notoriously took the title years after “Faith” became a pop classic — but none of them have made the ballsy grab that British singer Sam Smith has: wearing his gay pride on his sleeve as he rises to prominence, not as an afterthought once he’d already won over the public.

Sam is currently the reigning #1 singer on Billboard’s Top 100 Artist chart, beating out summer diva Iggy Azalea despite her unstoppable double-chart success with “Fancy” and “Problem” with Ariana Grande, who is also sitting high on the list at #6. Billboard only recently launched the chart, pulling together data across its many rankings of trends in pop music, making Smith one of the first artists to hold the title ever. Sam has not directly mentioned the ground-breaking chart ranking, but he did retweet the Smith lauding love that his label Capitol Records gave him when the news first broke.

Sam has managed to collect the title due to two of his own successes on the Billboard chart. Smith’s album In the Lonely Hour has held steady in the top five of the Billboard 200 for several weeks now, with the single “Stay With Me” firmly planted at No. 5 this week in the Billboard 100.

Even more impressive is that Sam’s name has managed to bring a track from last summer back from the dead. Disclosure’s Settle was one of the biggest electronic albums of 2014, but at the time its single “Latch” featuring Smith’s vocals did not yield anywhere near the success it is now enjoying. Sam’s collaboration with the British house music duo rose into the top 10 of the Billboard 100 this week.

Another marker of Sam Smith’s rising star power was his show at the iconic Somerset House venue in London. Sam did nothing to play it cool about the achievement, posting to his Twitter Saturday morning:

What do you think? Is Sam Smith on the track to become the gay Adele? Or is this success going to be cut short after the media buzz dies down?