Words: Alastair James; picture: Ferry van der Nat
People have been celebrating after an announcement from the BRIT Awards that the categories would scrap the traditional male and female categories to be more inclusive of non-binary performers.
The changes were announced yesterday (Monday 22 November) by the ceremony’s organisers and follow calls for it to happen from artists, including Sam Smith, who identifies as non-binary and missed out on a nomination at this year’s awards.
The changes will come into effect at the next awards on 8 February 2022. Comedian Mo Gilligan has also been confirmed as the show’s next host, with broadcasters Maya Jama and Clara Amfo supporting.
"This is what progressive moving forward looks like"
Rather than having ‘Best Male’ and ‘Best Female’ categories, won by Dua Lipa and J Hus this year, there will now be ‘Artist of the Year’ and ‘International Artist of the Year’.
Similar changes have already been successfully implemented by other world-renowned award shows including the MTV Video Music Awards, which in 2017 replaced its 'Best Male and Best Female' awards with a 'Best Artist' award.
Following the announcement, people took to Twitter to express their joy at the news.
One person using they/them pronouns congratulated Sam Smith for leading the charge adding, "this is what progressive moving forward looks like," and that non-binary people are iconic.
Congrats @samsmith for leading this change this is what progressive moving forward looks like. I don’t know why @BRITs dont do gold silver and bronze this is good for us #nonbinary people they are iconic. #SamSmith #BRITs https://t.co/l5HvSp3fUC— Aar Jae Willls They/Them ♠️💛💜🤍🖤♠️🏳️🌈🔶 (@autisticlyaaron) November 22, 2021
Another person revealed that the announcement had led to them having a conversation about non-binary people and that their parents were "willing to learn".
just had a conversation with my parents about non binary people bc of the brits changing their awards and theyre so so willing to learn :( i don’t think they 100% understand it but they accept it anyway 🥺— fran ✧ (@hiIIerskas) November 22, 2021
Unsurprisingly, there has also been some criticism of the decision, including from (and again, unsurprisingly) Piers Morgan, who’s slammed the move as "woke garbage".
Sam Smith’s Love Goes album reached number two in the UK charts but said they felt unable to enter into gendered categories writing at the time that the awards should be "reflective of the society we live in".
In a press release, the BPI, who run the awards, said the changes mean they can celebrate artists, "solely for their music and work, rather than how they choose to identify or as others may see them, as part of The BRITs’ commitment to evolving the show to be as inclusive and as relevant as possible."
The Chair of the BRITs, Tom March, said of the changes: "It feels completely the right time to celebrate the achievements of artists for the music that they create, and the work that they do, irrespective of gender."
Other changes include the introduction of the new genre categories: Alternative/Rock Act, Hip Hop/Grime/Rap Act, Dance Act, and Pop/R’n’B Act.
The Attitude December issue is out now.