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Will Adam Lambert’s Rolling Stone Interview Hurt Or Help His Career?

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

So this week, Adam Lambert's salivatingly-awaited, serpentine-accessorized Rolling Stone cover issue comes out. And I mean that literally. Yes, it's in this RS interview that Adam comes out of his fabulously appointed, leather-pants-filled closet to announce what all the world already knew: That he is (gasp!) gay.

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"I don't think it should be a surprise for anyone to hear that I'm gay," Adam correctly states, adding: "I'm proud of my sexuality. I embrace it." (As if there was ever ANYTHING about Adam Lambert's public persona that seemed shy or self-effacing!)

Yeah, yeah, I know--not so shocking. Not nearly as shocking as Lambert losing on Idol, really. It's not like Adam ever even slightly denied that he is homosexual. This is a guy who, on the most exciting Idol finale ever, not only performed in drag-queen-supplied Bob Mackie angel wings and platform Kiss boots from his "private collection," but also took on the Freddie Mercury role for the gay-rights Queen anthem "We Are The Champions," after all.

But Adam's sexuality was likely something he wasn't allowed to officially discuss before now (past gay Idol contestants like R.J. Helton, Jim Verrarros, and Danny Noriega have all publicly claimed that the show ordered them to keep mum regarding their sexual orientation--how very "don't ask, don't tell," huh?). Or frankly, his sexuality just wasn't something he felt was necessary to discuss within the context of the Idol competition.

As Adam says in his RS interview: "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."

However, media attention regarding Adam's personal life has only intensified since AmIdol wrapped up last month, from the jillion tabloid photos of him holding hands with reported boyfriend Drake Labry, to the jillion outcries from gay groups and, um, Perez Hilton demanding that he officially come out and shout, "I AM GAY!" through a glittery, rainbow-striped bullhorn. Such public pressure seems odd, since it's not like anyone ever insisted that Taylor Hicks or David Cook hold press conferences to state on the record: "Hey everybody, I dig women." Go figure.

But anyway, now that Adam has finally addressed all the speculation and the "pink elephant" in the room, in his characteristically flashy and flamboyant manner (just LOOK at that cover photo!), I sincerely hope everyone can just move on and remember what an amazing and unique talent he is. Hopefully, by the time Adam's debut album comes out later this year, the public focus will be back on the important stuff: you know, his music, his voice, his nail polish, his awesome hair, his guyliner, etc. Anything but his gayness.

If that turns out to be the case, and this Rolling Stone cover story--which hits newsstands only a few weeks after Adam's Idol season, as opposed to the six long years it took for Clay Aiken to come out on the cover of People--finally puts all the gay gossip to bed (so to speak), then this is a very shrewd career move. But I will admit that I'm worried it could be a career-killer. I had the same worries when that splashy Entertainment Weekly "Is He Gay?" cover story came out only a week or so before the Idol finale, fearing that it would ruin Adam's chances. I'm still not sure it didn't...

Yes, I know that almost immediately after Adam lost on Idol, the show's powers-that-be went into PC spin-control overdrive, emphatically asserting that his shocking second-place finish had simply come down to a matter of the public's musical taste, and that it had absolutely nothing to do with religion, sexuality, or politics. Except...it probably DID. Let's be real, now.

"It shouldn't matter. Except it does. It's really confusing," Adam tells Rolling Stone.

Okay, okay. I am sure there were several other reasons why Adam lost on American Idol. I do deeply want to believe that--as Ryan Seacrest also hoped out loud on Late Night With Conan O'Brien last Friday--the majority of Americans simply voted for the Idol contestant whose SINGING they liked best, not whose lifestyle they approved of most. But while it would be overly cynical to assume that Adam's rumored homosexuality (and by "rumored," I mean "completely assumed due to widely circulated, Bill O'Reilly-criticized photos of him smooching other pretty-boys in drag") was the main reason he didn't win, it would also be naive to assume that it wasn't a factor at all. Did the EW story, however well-intentioned (it was penned by openly gay, very respected journalist Mark Harris), make matters worse? I don't know.

I just hope this Rolling Stone article (in which Adam even controversially confesses a Kris Allen crush, saying, "He's the one guy I found attractive in the whole group on the show: nice, nonchalant, pretty, and totally my type--except that he has a wife") helps more than it hurts. I don't want Adam to forever be known as just the "Gay Idol." He's so much more than that.

In the end, we'll just have to wait to tally Adam's album sales figures to see if this tell-all article was a turn-off to more conservative record-buyers, or if it indeed refocused the attention on Adam's music. Most successful openly gay celebrities--Elton John, Rosie O'Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, George Michael, even Clay Aiken--have only come out well into their careers, after developing such strong fanbases that they could afford to lose a few fairweather fans put off by the news of their homosexuality. But Adam, possibly the bravest and boldest Idol contestant ever, faces a unique challenge by (as Kara DioGuardi recently worded it on The View) pretty much being out from the beginning.

I just hope unapologetic statements in Rolling Stone like "I've been living in Los Angeles for eight years as a gay man" don't make it even harder for closed-minded people to accept Adam.

And although Adam insists in his Rolling Stone interview, "I'm trying to be a singer, not a civil rights leader," I still hope that--as Adam so passionately sang during Idol finale week--a "Change Is Gonna Come" in this country, and that this article is a start.

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