Michael Cunningham thinks The New York Times’ Sam Smith profile stereotypes “gay men as hysterics”

Michael Cunningham, the Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Hours, has written a blistering critique of a recent Sam Smith profile published in The New York Times.

The letter, published in The Times’ Thursday edition, opines the piece was “disdainfully” written and that it  reinforced “the stereotype about gay men as hysterics.”

Related: PHOTOS: Sam Smith seen on the street kissing one of our favorite actors

The profile, headlined “The Tear-Stained Confessions of Sam Smith,” includes paragraphs of purple prose like this:

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.

This is followed by even more melodrama in the next graph, which goes a little something like this:

Yes, the floodgates really opened once Mr. Smith began to talk about love — big, delicious tears that coated and magnified his sad, glorious blue eyeballs but never quite leaked out onto his cheeks.

Cunningham was highly displeased with the not-so subtle satire, writing:

“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.”

Later, he says:

“It strikes me as unfortunate not only that the story’s first paragraphs perpetuate a certain stereotype about gay men as hysterics, but also that Mr. Smith, who is so candid about his experience of being shamed for his openness about his sexuality, finds himself shamed by his interviewer as well.”

Do you think there’s something subliminally homophobic about the profile, or is Michael Cunningham upset over nothing? Sound off in the comments below.

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    If only that ostentatious lachrymosity had translated into a listenable album I’d have given him a pass


      I was onboard for era of the first album — which was by no means perfect but showed great promise. I had high hopes for him devoloping as an artist. However, he has showed no such development; if anything regression. Not even his voice is distraction enough (Indeed the vocal ticks are now more appatant than ever) for the lack of writing and imagination. Totally used up his bag of tricks.

    • Kangol

      +10 for using the word “lachrymosity” in a sentence on here.

  • Danny595

    Guys who cry that much deserve to be mocked. Smith also declared himself to be “non-binary” and he should be mocked for that as well. Hopefully, other media will pile on. What a sad, weepy clown.

    • kent25

      Sam Smith gay card is Declined

  • Paco

    So, Michael Cunningham is uncomfortable that Sam Smith was brought to tears throughout the interview and the interviewer chose to share his sensitivities with the reader.

    Dear Mr. Cunningham,

    Sam Smith is not all gay men and has the right to cry as much as he wants during interviews no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. The only behavior that should be representative of you, is your own. Get over yourself dear.

  • Donston

    If the dude cried during every story he told then that’s what happened and there should be no issue with reporting it.

  • kent25

    Isn’t Sam Smith Gender Queer? that’s not gay

  • Jaxton

    The New York Times is not a gay-friendly newspaper. It even ran a poorly researched article once that claimed male bisexuality did not exist.

    Its obituaries have sometimes failed to mention that the deceased was in a homosexual relationship.

    The New York Times is a fading, failing newspaper in an overall sense.

    • DCguy

      What a shock, the troll account that tried to defend Roy Moore molesting a child in Alabama is trying to veer off topic to attack the NYTimes as anti-lgbt.

  • kyle summers

    Oh Hell No, Sam Smith is Not Gay, You can’t dump him and Spacey at our door

  • Heywood Jablowme

    I thought Sam Smith was a lesbian.

  • Rick Notch

    What a bunch of bigots!

  • PinkoOfTheGange

    Is Sam upset with the article? No then neither am I.

    New rule: if the person that may be offended isn’t, then we shouldn’t be either.

  • Xzamilloh

    All I know is, the album wasn’t that good.

  • Kangol

    I get where Michael Cunningham is coming from, but maybe the Sam Smith the writer chronicled is really like that. Maybe the journalist could have focused on something else, like how Smith acts when he’s putting on his favorite sweater–oh wait, he might start crying–or when he walks out of his door to begin a new day–OK, so that might make him cry too–or something else that didn’t provoke such tearfulness. But maybe that’s just him, and that’s OK. Maybe the next NY Times article can focus on super-butch gay men who barely emote and make all the homophobes feel really comfortable. Oh wait, they don’t calm the homophobes either!

  • chris33133

    Does this make Michael Cunningham one of the 70+% who are turned off by effeminate gay men (like Sam Smith, maybe?)? Should we be alarmed?? ….. I happen to think that Sam Smith singing doesn’t merit the attention he gets. And his limited talent is what fails to excite me.

  • Alan down in Florida

    I’ll dry Sam’s tears if he’ll sing me to sleep every night. You haters can just get over yourselves.

  • ingyaom

    Let’s hope it’s just his irises that are blue, not his eyeballs.

  • thomas prentice

    If he cries a lot, he cries a lot for crissakes. It is called EMPATHY. That is part of what makes him such a fine songwriter and performer. It doesn’t stereotype him or gays as hysterics. AND I AM NOT HYSTERICAL ABOUT THIS I AM NOT! Sam Smith is the best.

  • Rex Huskey

    well at least we know SM is a sissy hysteric…. oh yeah….so are most of the “Sisters” on here too!

  • dustychiffon

    (I’m crying as I write this)

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