Sam Smith was nowhere near prepared for the "ridicule" and "bullying" they would face after coming out as gender non-binary last year.
The Stay With Me hitmaker, who uses 'they/them' pronouns, has admitted logging onto social media each day continues to be a "very intense" experience, because the negativity is often non-stop.
"I honestly, I can't express to enough people how much courage it's taken," Smith told America's CBS This Morning show of going public with the decision. "I wasn't prepared for the amount of ridicule. And bullying, really, that I've experienced. I mean, honestly, the comments and the types of things that I have to answer and walk through every day is very, very intense."
Gender identity is something Smith has struggled with since childhood.
"Queer people all around the world, we don't identify within those two places (male or female)," the pop star shared. "Gender, for me, has been nothing but traumatising and challenging throughout my life. It's so hard to explain. I just feel like myself. I don't feel like a man, basically."
And grappling with sexuality issues while growing up in the spotlight has been particularly tough for Smith, who hails from a small town in Cambridgeshire, outside of London.
"I grew up in a village with no access to queer people and queer spaces until I was 19, 20," the musician continued. "So a lot of my growing up as a gay person and as a queer person has happened in front of people."
However, Smith is glad to be able to live an authentic life with their fans and become a role model for others in similar situations: "It's going so much better. After being able to talk about my gender expression, I feel such a weight has been lifted."