With the release of his debut album, For Your Entertainment, slated for next week, [artist id="3188063"]Adam Lambert[/artist] is everywhere these days. But one place he hasn’t been before is on the cover of Out magazine, the country’s leading gay publication. Wearing a tuxedo and a quizzical look, Lambert posed for the “Out 100″ issue alongside comedian [movieperson id="247788"]Wanda Sykes[/movieperson], gay icon [artist id="10985"]Cyndi Lauper[/artist], former Army lieutenant and “Don’t ask, don’t tell” opponent Daniel Choi, and “Chicago” director Rob Marshall.
One misconception Lambert dealt with early in the interview was the suspicion from some gay fans that he dropped not-so-subtle, winking hints about his sexuality on “American Idol” before officially coming out of the closet after the program ended.
“There was never any deliberate, like, ‘I’m going to hint now…’ because I was never in the closet,” he said. “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 f— 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.”
Lambert said he decided early on that he was not going to make his sexuality a factor on the show, because to him it was about entertaining the audience. But he knew that some fans might be upset by his decision.
“It’s a hard thing that everybody’s gonna have their opinion about,” he said. “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 f—ing 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.”
Lambert lauded the Fox publicity team for how they handled the leak of pictures of him making out with an ex-boyfriend and explained that he told the show’s spokesperson he was not ashamed of the photos and didn’t feel like he had to deny (or confirm) anything.
” ‘I don’t want to seem like I’m ashamed of it. Because that’s not me,’ ” he said he told her. ” ‘That’s just not how I am. But at the same time, I really want this opportunity and I want to stay on the show as long as possible. So, I kinda have to come up with a compromise.’ And [the publicist] was like, ‘Well, is it a big deal to you?’ And I’m like, ‘No.’ And she’s like, ‘Well, then let’s not make a big deal out of it.’ And that’s what we did. … And I’m glad that I handled it that way, because I think that had I immediately said the words and labeled myself — you know, said ‘I am gay’ — I think that it would’ve been more about that, initially, than anything else.”
Among other topics, Lambert discussed his shock at finding that many of his fans are not feeling his collaborator and kindred spirit [artist id="3061469"]Lady Gaga[/artist]: “A lot of my core fans — people that went to the ‘Idol’ concerts, and I glance at the messages boards once in a while — there is a surprising amount of them that don’t like her.”
He also discussed how his desire to just stay on “American Idol” from week to week drove him to adopt a chameleon-like persona.
“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,” he explained of his strategy. “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.’ ” He was surprised when his efforts to change it up each week were met with support from the show’s producers, who allowed him to be himself, realizing that the chatter was good for ratings.
He also talked about how the goofy Ford videos the “Idol” contestants dreaded were actually good practice for when he filmed his “Time for Miracles” clip , what kind of boys he’s into and the loss of anonymity that comes with suddenly being a famous pop star.
Lambert admitted that the tremendous pressure he feels to succeed has already gotten to him a couple of times, but said his decade-plus of experience in musical theater and living in Los Angeles has perhaps made him more prepared than other contestants. “When you’re in the city of entertainment, and you open your eyes and you meet people and you hear stories and you have friends that have been through this and that, going onto a show like ‘Idol,’ you get it, going into it,” he said.
In response to a question about Lambert’s handlers telling the magazine not to make their client seem “too gay,” the singer said there is something to that idea in crafting his image. “I think the whole magic of this moment is that I’m not alienating anybody,” he said. “I’m not trying to anyway. I want as many people to feel like they can like the music. I don’t want to edit myself to the point where I feel like I don’t have integrity. … It’s almost like being a political figure. It’s like a balancing act.”
For the issue, Out editor in chief Aaron Hicklin wrote an open letter to Lambert airing some grievances with how the singer, and his managers, are handling the spotlight.
“I like you, I really do,” Hicklin wrote. “Although I’d never watched ‘American Idol,’ I became a fan this year thanks to your unapologetic flamboyance and sexual swagger. It was refreshing to see someone playing by his own rules among so many cookie-cutters.”
Hicklin said he thought Lambert’s second-place finish was a win for those who saw it as a test of America’s growing tolerance. “That’s why we’re proud to have you in this year’s Out 100, along with all the other men and women who don’t believe their sexuality should be a barrier to success,” he added.
“It’s unfortunate, therefore, that your record label and management don’t share the same view. We’re curious whether you know that we made cover offers for you before ‘American Idol’ was even halfway through its run. Apparently, Out was too gay, even for you. There was the issue of what it would do to your record sales, we were told. Imagine! A gay musician on the cover of a gay magazine. What might the parents think! It’s only because this cover is a group shot that includes a straight woman that your team would allow you to be photographed at all — albeit with the caveat that we must avoid making you look ‘too gay.’ ”
A spokesperson for Lambert’s management had not returned requests for comment at press time.
Hicklin went on to lament that while the Out interview was “gracious and frank,” he was disheartened by Lambert’s decision to do a photo shoot with Details magazine that had him groping a naked woman. “You’re a pioneer, an out gay pop idol at the start of his career,” Hicklin wrote. “Someone has to be first, and we’re all counting on you not to mess this up. You have to find your own path and then others can follow. We just hope it’s a path that’s honest and true and that you choose to surround yourself with people who celebrate your individuality.”
Get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page, where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.