During a livestream for iHeartRadio’s Jingle Ball on Thursday night, Mendes introduced Smith for their performance of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. When introducing Smith, Mendes used “he” and “him” pronouns to describe the singer.
Social media users called on Mendes and iHeartRadio to make an apology, with one person writing: “I understand that Shawn may not have known that Sam Smith's pronouns are they/them but why did no one correct him?? Wasn’t this pre-filmed???”
Another added: “Did Shawn Mendes just misgender Sam Smith four times in a row? Really?”
On Friday, Mendes posted a public apology on his Instagram Stories, writing: “Oh @samsmith I’m so sorry for refferring [sic] to you as a ‘he’ for your jingle ball introduction.
“It absolutely slipped my mind. Won’t happen again. Sending you so much love! Also you absolutely are one of the funniest people I’ve ever met!”
Later that day Smith re-posted Mendes’ story on their own account, adding: “We’re all learning together. Happy holidays, all my love xx.”
In September 2019, Smith came out as non-binary on social media and revealed that they would be using they and them pronouns going forward.
“Today is a good day so here goes. I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out,” Smith wrote at the time.
“I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*** it.”
They continued: “I understand there will be many mistakes and misgendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you.”
“I have always felt the way I’ve felt, and just hearing other non-binary stories made me suddenly feel seen,” they said.
”This is a way that I can live, where if I tell people this is how I feel and this is how I like to be treated, life is easier.”
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