The sniping between "The Voice" and "American Idol" was pretty tame this spring when both shows were vying for eyeballs. But now that the singing competitions are off the air, "Voice" coach Adam Levine has taken the gloves off and taken a swing at "Idol" over its treatment of gay contestants.
In an interview with the gay publication Out magazine, Levine spoke of how he thinks the Fox show has dealt with gay competitors in the past. "What's always pissed me off about 'Idol' is wanting to mask that, for that to go unspoken," he said. "C'mon. You can't be publicly gay? At this point? On a singing competition? Give me a break. You can't hide basic components of these people's lives. The fact that 'The Voice' didn't have any qualms about being completely open about it is a great thing."
The two most prominent gay singers on "Idol," runners-up Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert, avoided questions about their sexuality while on the show, though both subsequently came out once their runs on "Idol" were over. A spokesperson for "Idol" could not be reached for comment on Levine's interview.
It wasn't all air kisses and gay pride on "The Voice," though, with two of the four judges, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton, posting apologies to fans and viewers after making comments deemed to be anti-gay. Levine also admitted at one point that despite his qualms, "I can't f--- with 'American Idol,' " calling the show a "cultural institution."
The Maroon 5 singer told the magazine that he was proud of how his show treated such out-and-proud gay singers as Beverly McClellan and Vicci Martinez, even as he batted away the long-standing rumors about his own sexuality.
And while he's happy to embrace his gay fans and encourage any and all "Voice" singers who want to give it a shot, he also responded to that speculation about his sexuality by saying, "There's no way to hide my straightness, but if people didn't think there was a small chance I was gay, then I wouldn't be doing my job very well. ... Look at the best ones, guys whose sexuality was always questioned. ... [David] Bowie. [Mick] Jagger. Freddie Mercury. I wouldn't be the frontman of a band if that question hadn't come up at some point."
Levine also went on to reveal that his younger brother is gay, saying that he can "single-handedly" dispel the notion that sexuality is a choice. "Trust me, you're born with it. My brother is gay, and we knew when he was two. We all knew," he said, encouraging people to embrace the news of a loved one's homosexuality instead of fighting it.
"A lot of people don't want their kid to be gay and will fight it at all costs," he said. "But I've got news for you — it's a losing f---ing battle. The more you fight it, the more f---ed-up your kid's gonna be. You've just gotta embrace it from the beginning. That's the only way to deal with it as a family. Otherwise, you're just screwing yourself over, and you're gonna make your kid miserable."