Watch: The Sam Smith music video that you need to see

In Sam Smith’s new music video for “Lay Me Down,” one message is clear: love is love. You don’t have to be a gay man to relate to the anguish derived from the video as scenes move from a funeral service, to a wedding in the past, and then to Sam alone in the present.

Other websites like NewNowNext, Huffington Post,  BuzzFeed and MTV praise the video as a “tribute to marriage equality,” but behind the storyline lies a broader, more important message.

With the rising popularity of shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and artists like Sam Smith, you might often forget that acceptance of gay people and gay culture is still not widespread. In towns across America, teenagers commit suicide each week because the world from their front yard looks dark and hopeless and the people in their lives — teachers, classmates, and family — don’t accept them. Homophobic families still throw their gay children on the streets or even put them through “therapy” to try to change them.

In the past couple years, the media has stopped trying to reach out to young gay audiences who need someone to speak for them and has become only focused on the gay audiences that can be immediately reached and influenced into buying or otherwise interacting with a product or service. As gay culture has grown more defined by fictional LGBT characters, overuse of adjectives such as “fierce” and “fab,” and the entrance of drag queens into mainstream media, gay people have been defined, too. They’ve been defined as an audience and a demographic, but no longer a cause.  Any long-term, national attention on acceptance of gay people we saw begin to unfold a few years ago has been forgotten and replaced with attention on same-sex marriage alone; even this music video is evidence.

Despite narrow-minded intentions, the music video for “Lay Me Down” serves as an important reminder that beneath the words we use, the way we dress, and the culture that today seems to define “gay,” at the heart of our sexual identity is love. The men and women who are brave enough to identify as their true, non-heterosexual orientation do so for love — not for self-empowerment songs or fireworks shooting out of bras or flashy, “fierce” fashion. There are still people who need reminding.

No matter who you love, what you love or how you love, please take five minutes to see the video for yourself, to remember for a moment that pop culture does not define our identity, and to share the video with your friends on social media who may not understand queer love as much as you do.

Sam posted this statement on Facebook with the music video release:

This video shows my dreams that one day gay men and women and transgendered men and women all over the world, like all our straight families and friends, will be able to get married under any roof, in any city, in any town, in any village, in any country. I hope you enjoy it. I love you all.

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