As one of the world's biggest-selling singers, the 27-year-old musician is transforming global understanding of gender identity after coming out as non-binary earlier this year.
But the road getting there hasn't been easy. After announcing last month that they prefer to be referred to by gender-neutral 'they/them' pronouns, Sam has opened up about the pressures they've faced as a person in the public eye coming to terms with their true identity.
"When I made my first album I was a nobody and I felt free to be whoever, and express however, I wanted, but that follow-up album was different," they write in a personal essay penned for the Attitude Awards issue - available to order globally and to download now.
"I felt a deep and heavy pressure that I didn't want to disappoint my fans, my record label, my family. But most importantly myself."
They continue: "As each day went on, my suits felt more like straitjackets and my head started to feel more and more like a prison."
Sam, who revealed last month that they wishes to be referred to be 'they/them' pronouns, says they are now feeling "more confident and happy" in their skin, but that the battle for self-acceptance is an ongoing one.
"Nothing good ever happens easy", they write.
Sam Smith, shot exclusively for the Attitude Awards issue by Ferry van der Net
"In the words of Cheryl Cole, 'We have to fight, fight, fight, fight... fight for this love.
"And I have. Am I am."
Read Sam's full personal essay and exclusive interviews with all the winners from the Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards 2019, powered by Jaguar in the Attitude Awards issue, out now.
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