Adam Lambert’s Out 100 Interview
Controversy erupted between hard-core Adam Lambert fans and Out magazine’s editor in chief, Aaron Hicklin, after the behind-the-scenes comments and requests of his management during Lambert's interview for the Out 100 inspired Hicklin to pen an open letter to the American Idol runner-up.
In the letter Hicklin notes the curious heterosexual overtones in Lambert's Details magazine feature and pictorial. He labels Lambert "a pioneer, an out gay pop idol at the start of his career. Someone has to be first, and we’re all counting on you not to mess this up."
Lambert tweeted a response to the open letter, accusing Hicklin and Out of using him to further their own agenda; it has since disappeared from his posts. Meanwhile, fervent fans have attacked Out on its message boards for placing such heavy responsibility on the pop star's shoulders, while other commenters note the important role Lambert has been endowed with by his newfound fame.
In the midst of the clash, Lambert's two-part interview with Out writer Shana Naomi Krochmal remains an informative, thought-provoking look at the popularity, sexuality, and public image of an American Idol star as he prepares to make his mark as a recording artist.
Below is an excerpt in which Lambert discusses in detail the coming-out process during his run on Idol.
Originally published on Out.com
By Shana Naomi Krochmal
In early October, Out sat down with Adam Lambert for an hour-long talk about his upcoming album, life inside the American Idol machine, and how carving out a career in the music industry is still easier for him than being in love. (Lambert and then-boyfriend Drake LaBry broke up following that interview, after Out went to press.)
In the first half of our extended interview transcript, Lambert gives us a play-by-play from the center of Fox’s PR storm, talks about his taste in men (hint: “pretty” is pretty important), and gets graphic about just how far curiosity can carry you.
OUT: Is what you learned on Idol applicable to the real world of the music industry?
LAMBERT: I think so, yeah.
Do you feel like you’re having a different level of conversation with music execs?
When I stop and realize who it is that I’m talking to and what they’ve done, I’m like, holy shit. These people are powerful and they have a résumé like ... whew. I try to not to think about it. It’s the same way I dealt with the show. Just don’t think about the fact that there are 30 million people watching right now, just do your thing. Just stand on stage, sing for the people in the television audience, and don’t think about the cameras.
How did you manage that?
I think that what I did on Idol was me thinking to myself, OK, I want to stay on the show as long as possible, so what do I have to do to keep people interested? For me, that was kind of going into slightly chameleon-like situations where this week, I’m going to do more like this, and sound like this. I was always me, but now I’m going to go here, now I’m going to go there. Because we had different themes, and that’s what you kind of have to do. Trying to give it a through-line with me at the center of it, but playing different types of music. This week I’m not going to have any rocker style. I’m going to do Motown. I’m not going to wear any makeup, and I’m going to do my cleaned-up classic retro look. And people were like, “Wow!” And I’m like, “To me it’s not really that different. I’m just wearing a suit, I just brushed my hair.”
Watching your performance on Idol, it was almost like you were using an old-fashioned code to say, “We’re all in on this.” Tell me which parts of that were deliberate.
There was never any deliberate, like, “I’m going to hint now ... ” because I was never in the closet. The funny thing about dealing with all that was ... [Long pause] When those pictures came out online, I got freaked out. I was like, “Great, that’s gonna fuck things up.” ’Cause I just figured, you know, this is a national television program and people are conservative in our country, aside from L.A. and New York and a couple of other places.
I think for a lot of people, no matter how out you’ve been, you have these moments where you’re like, “How are people going to react?”
To be honest with you, it was a really weird moment, because I’ve been living in L.A. for eight years like, yeah, I’m gay. I go out to gay clubs and bars and I go out to straight clubs and bars too. I don’t think twice about it. And it was the first time since I’d come out of the closet at 18 that I had to think about it.
During the audition process, it didn’t come up? Like, “OK, I’m going to maybe pull this back a little ... ”
I was just going to make it a nonissue, because to me, it really isn’t about that. It’s about the entertainment factor. And I don’t understand why it has to be about my sexuality. I’m just not going to talk about it one way or another. It doesn’t matter. And then when those pictures came out, I was like, you know what? I thought maybe I’ll just own it and say, “Yeah, I’m gay.” But I didn’t want to label myself. What I did was, I said, “I’m not ashamed of the pictures.” I didn’t do the thing that some people do and say, “I made mistakes in the past.” I didn’t want to acknowledge it as a mistake or something I was ashamed of, because I’m not.
It wasn’t like it was some hard-core sex tape that anyone, gay or straight, would’ve been kicked off of Idol for.
I was making out with my ex-boyfriend.
But that fear, that there’s a queer double standard — it’s not always wrong.
It’s a hard thing that everybody’s gonna have their opinion about. You know? Some people in the gay community might look at it like, “You really should’ve owned that. You didn’t hide it, but you didn’t admit it and that’s weak.” My whole point is, I’m not trying to lead the fucking way for the civil rights movement that we’re in right now. I just happen to be a gay man — and I’m not ashamed of that at all. Regardless of how I handled it, it became a huge issue. And I knew it would. So I figured, you know what, I’m just not going to label myself, I’m going to own the pictures, I’m going to get past it and just keep being myself on the show. And then I waited until after because I was finally given the opportunity. I mean, on the show, we’re not really [allowed to talk to press].
You’ve said it was your choice how to handle that. Even the most savvy gay people I know are dubious about you having that much control. How did it happen? Did you get called into a meeting?
Literally, the minute the pictures came out, the publicist for the show called me up and was like, “So? Did you hear about these pictures?” And I was like, “Yeah.” And she goes, “What do you want to do about it?” She was really cool.
To read about Lambert's thoughts on Lady Gaga, his career ambitions, his taste in men and much, much more, check out the rest of Lambert's Out 100 interview here and the second part here. You can also read Krochmal's own account of her experience with 19 Entertainment, here.
Tell Us: Do you think Lambert has been unfairly forced into being a role model and pioneer for the LGBT community, or is his management guilty of playing down his homosexuality for straight fans?
Images courtesy of Getty