Taking the stage to receive the Grammy for Best Pop Group/Duo Performance, Kim Petras quickly made sure the audience knew how important this win was. Petras, who shares the award with her “Unholy” collaborator Sam Smith, is the first openly transgender woman in the show’s history to win in that category.
Smith let their fellow performer commandeer the mic for the pair’s acceptance speech, knowing the landmark status of Petras’ win. And Petras made sure to thank Smith for it, as well as for those who helped break down barriers for trans and queer musicians over the years. (Her collaborator Smith is nonbinary.)
“Sam graciously wanted me to accept this award because I’m the first transgender woman to win this award,” Petras said during her speech. “I just want to thank all the incredible transgender legends before me who kicked these doors open before me so I could be here tonight.”
Petras called out two artists by name: the late influential electronic musician Sophie, who worked with Petras and contemporaries like Charli XCX and died tragically in early 2021, and Madonna, who’s spent decades platforming queer artists and dancers in her work.
But the sweetest shout-out went to the 30-year-old artist’s mother: “I grew up next to a highway in Germany,” Petras said, “and my mother believed me that I was a girl, and I wouldn’t be here without her and her support.”
The audience took to their feet to give Petras an ovation as soon as she noted how groundbreaking her win was. And fans of the pop artist, whose featured spot on “Unholy” marks her first No. 1 hit in a career spanning nearly 15 years, have been celebrating online since she and Smith were nominated. The excitement is not just because one of the internet’s favorite pop girlies has taken home the music industry’s highest mainstream honor—it’s that Petras winning this kind of mainstream honor as a member of the trans community is something novel, special, and hopefully just the start of more to come.
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