Full disclosure: I’m not a gay man. That makes me not qualified to speak about whether it was important for Lambert to land on American Idol as an openly gay man or not. To me, I see the world as it is, not what I’d like it to be. In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, Lambert talks about why he never came out on Idol, “”I was worried that [coming out] would be so sensationalized that it would overshadow what I was there to do, which was sing. I’m an entertainer, and who I am and what I do in my personal life is a separate thing.”
In case he hadn’t noticed, though, there is a mini revolution occurring as we speak, on the heels of another loss for same-sex marriage. It is thought, or hoped, that if celebrities and politicians come out publicly, it will help fight the good fight. So Lambert had many people shouting to him to just come out already.
The funny part of it is that this is a guy who wore eyeliner, black nail polish, and platform shoes and performed Cher on the show. Did anyone really think he was trying to “pass” for straight? Lambert was true to himself, which was all that mattered.
The question remains, though, how gay can Idol get now? With Lambert and Clay Aiken, both second place winners on the show, now out and proud, it seems to disprove the idea that Americans are turned off by gay singers. While Aiken had tween girls screaming for him, Lambert has grown women wishing they were gay men. Surely it is time to give up the notion of leading a double life.
There was a time when no one thought reality shows could really make a difference. But American Idol isn’t just a reality show anymore; it’s a valid arm of the music business. American Idols are dominating the iTunes charts like never before. Lambert, in particular, is selling. One look at the top songs and it’s difficult to find one that wasn’t an Idol. It’s a wonder people like Katy Perry can still break through without that show as backing.
With that kind of dominance, it doesn’t seem likely that Idol’s place in pop music is going anywhere any time soon. That means they can afford to take more risks with the people they choose to run down the finals. Whether they will or not remains to be seen.
The Rolling Stone cover of Lambert features the singer in a laid back, seductive pose with a green snake aiming at his crotch. His charisma knows no bounds. He is the one covering Rolling Stone. He is sexy. Lambert might not have come out in a way the gay community would be proud of, but there is no doubt his very existence is already going a long way towards mainstreaming the idea being gay isn’t something one should hide, but rather wear confidently, like a jeweled butterfly right near the zipper.