On Friday (Dec. 11), pop singer Shawn Mendes took to his Instagram stories to publicly apologize to fellow pop star Sam Smith for using the wrong pronouns when introducing them at the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball on Thursday night.
“Oh @samsmith,” he wrote in a post to his stories. “I’m so sorry for referring to you as a ‘he’ for your Jingle Ball introduction. It absolutely slipped my mind. Wont [sic] happen again…Sending you so much love! Also you are absolutely one of the funniest people I’ve ever met!”
Smith took the apology in stride. The “Diamonds” singer posted Mendes’ apology on their Instagram story, where they let the “Wonder” singer know that there were no hard feelings. “We’re all learning together,” they wrote. “Happy holidays, all my love.”
During the livestream 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; Smith publicly changed their pronouns to “they” and “them” in September 2019 after coming out as nonbinary and genderqueer.
“After a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out,” they 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!”
Fans of both stars publicly called on Mendes and iHeartRadio to make an apology to Smith for misgendering them at the Jingle Ball and for airing the wrong pronouns. “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???” one fan wrote. “Did Shawn Mendes just misgender Sam Smith four times in a row? Really?” said another.