‘American Idol’ Exec Responds To Adam Levine’s Gripes

'If somebody wants to say they're gay, it's up to them,' Nigel Lythgoe tells Entertainment Weekly after 'The Voice' judge's comments.

Once Maroon 5 frontman and “The Voice” judge Adam Levine gave “American Idol” a tongue-lashing regarding what Levine deemed the “masking” of its gay contestants, it seemed only a matter of time before we’d hear a rebuttal from the “Idol” powers that be. Said rebuttal has arrived via executive producer Nigel Lythgoe in an interview with target="_blank">Entertainment Weekly.

“To be frank, I didn’t understand why we’re talking about contestants being gay or not gay,” Lythgoe told the magazine when asked about Levine’s complaint that the ratings juggernaut prefers that gay contestants don’t publicly disclose their sexuality. “I don’t go into my dentist and say, ‘Are you gay?’ I don’t say to contestants on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ [on which Lythgoe serves as a judge and executive producer], ‘Are you gay?’ What does it got to do with me?
What does it got to do with anybody? When does privacy stop in this country? If somebody wants to say they’re gay, it’s up to them. You don’t expect us to turn around and say, ‘Are you gay?’ Why would we do that? — ‘By the way, he’s a Catholic and he supports Obama and here’s his sexuality’ — what does that have anything to do with singing talent? Maybe it does for Adam Levine, but not for me.”

When asked by the interviewer if the reason why there have not been openly gay contestants on “Idol” is that it’s up to the individual, Lythgoe brought up season eight runner-up Adam Lambert, who is gay but never spoke about it on the show.

“He must have come out before being on ‘Idol,’ he just didn’t talk about it on ‘Idol.’ And why should he? Is every actor going on television going to say, ‘I’m only playing the part of a straight man, I’m really gay’? There’s no reason that I would see why anybody that goes on television should start coming out with who they are, what they are, what their sexuality is, who they’re going to vote for or what their religion is.”

Lythgoe made his point about personal choice and privacy, but he did not address whether the show has an official policy on the matter.