Sam Smith has revealed that he was a victim of homophobic bullying as a teenager.

The ‘Stay With Me’ singer came out as gay publicly last year, when he revealed his album was about a man he fell in love with – but has been out in his private life since he was a young boy.

In an interview with the Sun, he revealed that he was targeted because of his sexuality for years.

He told the newspaper of growing up in a small town in Hertfordshire: “The toughest time for me was my first year in secondary school when I hadn’t come out as gay. It was actually the denying of being gay that was getting me bullied.

“Guys were asking me all the time, ‘Are you gay?’ I would say no and that would rile them up even more. I came out at the end of year seven when I was 11. That shut a lot of the bullies up.”

“A bunch of boys from a rival school would shout insults at me as I walked from my home to the train station.

“I remember walking to the station getting ‘faggot’ shouted at me all the time.

“It was the most mortifying thing. Not so much for me. I knew these people were stupid, uneducated twats

“But I was upset as I was with my friends and I wondered if they were embarrassed to be walking with me because people are hurling abuse. I hated the fact my friends had to listen to that.”

He added: “When I moved to London I got punched in the neck walking back from work. It was definitely homophobic.

“I was on the phone speaking quite loudly and had pink earphones on so it was pretty clear I was gay.

The singer also addressed his increasing shift towards gay advocacy, after initially indicating he would steer away from the issue.

He said: “I can speak about this from a position of power, compared to two years ago where it would have been pissing in the wind. It wouldn’t have gone anywhere.”

At the beginning of last year I wasn’t talking about my sexuality as much. But I’ve sold loads of records now and I have a voice.”

Research released today by the National Aids Trust (NAT) finds that more than a quarter of gay and bi young men don’t know how HIV is transmitted, and over a third of those who had been bullied said they had been by a teacher or adult.