Adam Lambert has the difficult task of becoming a megastar while being openly gay. How can he be butch enough for the mainstream but gay enough for his homo fans? He can't, and the gays are fighting back already.
First there was his ladytastic shoot for Details and then we called Lambert out for trying to talk about female genitalia in gay magazine Out. Now Aaron Hicklin, the editor of Out, is backing up our stance. In his editor's letter in the upcoming Out 100 issue, according to Towelroad, he writes:
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."...Getting straight men and women to do Out is easy these days. It gives them cred. Getting gay stars like yourself is another matter. Much easier to stick you in Details, where your homosexuality can be neutralized by having you awkwardly grabbing a woman's breast and saying, "Women are pretty." So are kittens, Adam, but it doesn't mean you have to make out with them.
Um, doesn't Lambert make himself look "too gay" with all that glittery and eyeliner and flamboyance? We agree with Hicklin that it's not Adam trying to keep himself in the closet, but the executives, publicists, and other assorted minders that are managing his career. Even though he didn't publicly come out until after American Idol was over, his orientation was the other big pink elephant on the stage sitting right next to Ryan Seacrest. And millions and millions of Americans still voted for him (even though power gay Michael Musto is regretting his decision). Lambert himself has always seemed very confident being open about who he sleeps with, so why are his managers trying to build a closet around him?
There is no way that any celebrity can make a living off of just a gay fan base—there just aren't enough of us to support a giant megastar. So, conventional wisdom says that in order go go mainstream, an entertainer has to tone down the pink glitter in order to not offend anyone. Does anyone remember Liberace? Or Richard Simmons? Maybe part of Lambert's appeal is that he is a big ol' Mary? Maybe teenage girls and straight women want him to continue being the radical fairy that was introduced on Idol.
The specter of Clay Aiken—the other successful gay Idol—hangs over Lambert's career, because after coming out, Aiken hasn't sold nearly as many CDs as when he was in the closet. The difference is that Aiken always skirted the issue and denied that he was gay, trying to court his rabid fan base of girls that wanted to marry him. Lambert has a different kind of appeal. He's the gay guy that (while girls may crush on him) people want to party with. His appeal goes past an asexual charm because he has talent and showmanship—and who doesn't love their pop songs served up with a little bit of pizazz.
Yes, the gays won't be happy until Lambert stops being photographed with naked women and talking about how he wants to give cunnilingus a whirl, but really, that may be the best thing for his career.