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Will Young calls on BRIT Awards to stop excluding non-binary artists

Michele Theil August 13, 2021
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Will Young at 2009 Brit Awards

(Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Will Young has called for the BRIT Awards to address the “tricky” issue of gendered categories which exclude non-binary artists.

The BRITs announced plans to scrap gendered best artist categories in 2019 but there have been no changes as of yet.

Organisers said the categories were “under review” in May 2021, after non-binary singer Sam Smith spoke out about their own exclusion, but that wider consultation was needed “to make sure we get it right”.

“The BRITs are committed to evolving the show… But any changes made to be more inclusive need to be just that – if a change unintentionally leads to less inclusion then it risks being counterproductive to diversity and equality,” they said.

Will Young weighed in on the issue on The Independent’s Millennial Love podcast.

“It’s quite difficult that,” he said. “It really is. At present, I profess to ignorance here, I only know of a couple of artists who identify as non-binary in the UK who would be up for BRIT Awards.”

“How much does something move around? How do you reconfigure? I think it would be really difficult to have just one category because less people would win.”

He added: “It’s a tricky one, but you have to respect that. You have to change things around and make it work.”

However, Young believes that “there is a way that i can be done respectfully,” and that the “people to speak to are the people identifying as non-binary”.

Sam Smith, who came out as non-binary in 2019, called for awards shows to be more “reflective of the society we live in” after they were excluded from best artist categories this year.

This was despite their third album Love Goes reaching number two in the UK charts after it was released in October 2020. Smith would have been eligible for other categories, which are not gendered.

They said on Instagram: “The Brits have been an important part of my career … Music for me has always been about unification not division.”

“I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in. Let’s celebrate everybody, regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality and class.”

The majority of major music awards shows still have gendered categories, including the BRITs, the American Music Awards, and the Billboard Music Awards.

The Grammys is a notable exception, having removed all gendered categories in 2012, while MTV announced in 2017 that it was scrapping gendered categories for both its Video Music Awards and Movie & TV Awards.

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