Adam Lambert is in the news today as a Malaysian political party denounces his upcoming concert because of Lambert’s ties to “gay culture”. They have threatened a protest if the show is not canceled. In Malaysia, homosexual sex is considered a crime. They have accused Lambert of lewd dancing and of kissing male dancers. Lambert has no plans to cancel the show but has agreed to keep his clothes on and stay 25 feet from the audience. I keep imagining images of what Malaysian’s might have feared that provoked them to set these rules. To my knowledge Adam Lambert has always performed fully dressed in spite of audience demands. As someone who has seen Adam Lambert perform many times I do not think he is inappropriate for any age.
In other news Lambert has changed his twitter avatar to protest the gay marriages ban in California. His mouth is duct taped and “NOH8” is written on one cheek, in support of the NOH8 Campaign against Proposition 8. Adam Lambert has stated many times that he is a singer and not an activist yet he has become an important figure in the fight for equality in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community.
As Adam Lambert becomes universally know as an extraordinary entertainer his stage has become his soapbox, not because of what he advocates but because of how he lives his life. He is a confident, unapologetic openly gay man, the first openly gay man to ever sign with a major record label. A true gentleman, Adam Lambert is the public face of someone who is intelligent, comfortable in his own skin and fearless. He is the kind of human being you would want for a son, a brother, a lover, a friend or a role model. Even though he is an exceptional man personally and professionally, Adam Lambert has met with a torrent of bigotry.
It is important to examine how society has treated Adam Lambert in light of the recent events that have brought to the spotlight the rash of suicides, bullying and torture of LGBT youth. Why did they feel so hopeless that they no longer wanted to live? They knew same sex couples are still fighting for the right to marry. They knew that homosexuals can fight and die for their country, become heroes, but if they declare their orientation they are given a dishonorable discharge from the military. These children knew our government policies condone discrimination and that gives the bigots in the world the permission to smugly act as though their bigotry is morally superior to acceptance of alternative lifestyles.
No wonder our LGBT youth are demoralized. They know discrimination is rampant. It does not matter that an entertainer of Adam Lambert’s caliber comes along once or twice in a generation the mainstream media chooses to sensationalize his orientation rather than focus on his talent. When a candidate for governor of New York, Carl Paladino, attacked homosexuality in a speech to Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn at Congregation Shaarei Chaim and said, “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.” Mr. Paladino, please stop ignoring science, no one can make your children gay, gay children are born that way. What message of self worth are you sending when you say that alternative lifestyles are not valid or successful? No wonder bullies think that there is a continuous open season to attack LGBT teens. We cannot expect our nation to be effective at stopping the bulling of LGBT youth when the fundamental discourse has to start with rejecting any law or creed that denigrates their inner most feelings.
The main protagonists in the US are the religious social conservatives. They are a forceful minority with very strong, fixed, and conflicting views on marriage and the morality of LGBT relationships. The bigotry propagated by these people is the completely discredited idea that sexual orientation is a choice. Every credible medical and psychological institution or association in America has rejected this fallacy, yet religious zealots continue to reject modern science in favor of a falsehood that fits with their world view and comforts them with their bigotry, the idea that being gay is a choice. If being gay was not a choice, then the bigotry and contempt for homosexuals that they harbor could not be justified. Justified or not the religious conservatives where there to pounce when Adam Lambert emerged on the entertainment scene.
How Bigotry Affected Adam Lambert
Lambert was catapulted to the attention of the American public by way of the most popular television show in the United States, American Idol. Lambert was an early standout. From the first moments of his audition when Lambert sang Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” it was clear that he was a contender. Paula said that Lambert was the best they had seen from every city. During the week of the Top Thirty-six Lambert sang “Satisfaction” and knocked Danny Gokey off his preordained winning pedestal.
The Jagger like strutting during “Satisfaction” was an early indication that Lambert could not only sing like no other but that his sexually charged energy could heat up the stage. The next week Lambert sang Michael Jackson’s “Black or White”. Jackson was watching television from home and is said to have been impressed with Adam Lambert’s talent. Simon said it was in a totally different league than anything else they had heard that night. Around that time pictures exploded onto the Internet of Adam kissing his ex boyfriend.
Adam displayed the first inkling of just how masterful he can be with the media. Did you Google “Adam Lambert”, the reporter asked. Without a blink or a flinch when asked about the “pictures” Adam matter-of-factly answered, “I have nothing to hide, I am who I am, this is about singing, nothing else. I have never been shy about anything.” Lambert did not deny or denigrate the Burning Man photos. He did not allow anyone to diminish him and he was not embarrassed. With his career on the line and the fulfillment of his dreams in reach he bravely stood his ground with fearlessness and exceptional media savvy.
Adam displayed real courage the very next week when he emerged with makeup and nail polish to the astonishment of Randy Travis and sang a country song. It was kind of a country song; it was co written by June Carter about her feelings for Johnny Cash. Rather than backing down from controversy Lambert faced it head on and became the water cooler conversation that week when he, with impeccable soaring vocals, rendered the Dilana inspired version of “Ring of Fire”. The man in black had a cultural collision with the man in black eyeliner.
After the release of the “embarrassing pictures” Lambert was bombarded with the most vitriolic media frenzy ever directed at a contestant in the history of the American Idol. From the moment the Burning Man pictures hit the media Lambert was under fire. Rather than obvious bigotry people criticized Adam for his weight, his hair, his tongue, his skin, his nails, his clothes, his hand gestures and called his soaring vocals screeching, screaming and caterwauling. I met Lambert recently at the Hollywood Hard Rock Hotel. In person there is a glow and a positive energy about him that you can see and feel. He is physically beautiful, slim and fit. How strong he is to be able to face down frightening hatred every day and remain a positive, loving and centered person.
The week after “Ring of Fire” Adam changed things up again. In a suit, sans makeup, looking like a cross between Elvis and Clark Kent Lambert showed us that he could pull it back and with his original arrangement, an unplugged version of “Track of My Tears” he brought Smokey Robinson to his feet. Let there be no mistake. Once it was well known that Lambert was gay he had to sing twice a good as everyone else to stay in the competition.
Week after week Lambert delivered extraordinary vocals that outclassed all other contestants while American Idol producers pretended a contest was going on. This reality show made a poor choice. Rather than acknowledging that they had found someone of the caliber to become an international star, they thought short range and reasoned that a “close race” was better for ratings. Even on the week that Lambert sang “Mad World” and received Simon Cowell’s one and only standing ovation the producers could not keep within the time restraints, let the show run over and deprived Lambert of his Susan Boyle moment; the moment where the audience and the judges gushed over him. Everyone in the world should have been amazed by Adam Lambert’s talent and creativity that night rather than having half of the country missing his performance.
All the while hatred spewed and reporters hounded Lambert’s friends at the “Up Right Cabaret” and the “Zodiac Club” trying to get a scoop. Why was it so important to confirm that Adam Lambert is gay? How should a man who has never been in the closet come out of the closet? Was it necessary for him to announce his sexuality? The media thought so. There were lulls and there were storms. Storms brewed during the final week as they attempted one last bigoted media blast to defeat Adam Lambert.
Bill O’Reilly was so concerned about having a “might be gay” Idol winner that he discussed the issue twice on his show. On the night before the final, in an attempt to impact the vote O’Reilly brought on New Speak, I mean Newsweek entertainment reporter Ramin Setoodeh as a guest. Setoodeh incorrectly told America that Southern Christians control the determinative voting block for American Idol. The propaganda piece was intended to influence the Christian vote and rally them against Lambert. The accurate vote controlling demographic are women around forty who favored Lambert by 80% and did not care if he is straight or gay. Throughout the broadcast O’Reilly flashed pictures of Adam “smooching up” his ex boyfriend again and again albeit cropping out any actual lip touching.
Throughout Lambert’s journey on American Idol he showed the courage and integrity to embrace his identity while delivering spectacular weekly performances with uncompromising artistry. By the night of the final there was no doubt that Lambert deserved to win even though the producers were still playing the game that it was going to be a tough decision. Adam Lambert’s rendition of “A Change is Gonna Come” may very well be the most powerful song ever sang in the entirety of the nine-year run of American Idol. His opponent’s “What’s Going On?” may very well have been the worst final performance. The next night Lambert sang with Queen and Kiss and showed he had the chops necessary to be the front man for an iconic band. To the shock and dismay of the majority of America Lambert lost.
Adam Lambert’s loss and how it occurred is the subject of my book “American Idol Vote Scam”. Without rehashing the issues I will say that Adam did not lose a fair contest and organized homophobia in Arkansas played a big part in Lambert’s defeat.
Most people believe Adam Lambert lost because of his sexual orientation, not knowing what occurred in Arkansas. The loss was the catalyst for conditions that were detrimental to Adam’s career. First, Lambert’s loss empowered the bigots who thought they were successful at suppressing alternative lifestyles and second, it left the most powerful television show in the world scrambling to protect the legitimacy of the vote at Lambert’s expense. American Idol surely wanted to convince America that the other guy won fairly to protect their credibility. The American Idol winner’s disappointing album release numbers the week before the AMA’s only highlighted the discrepancy in the number of their respective fans. Even with the AMA rucus Lambert outsold the winner by a wide margin.
American Idol partners with Disney in an American Idol amusement park experience. I question whether Disney owned ABC overreacted to Adam’s performance motivated by their desire to bring negative attention to Lambert on the eve of the release of his album. When you reexamine the AMA’s Adam Lambert’s wasn’t the lone sexually provocative performance. What was ABC’s real agenda when they shockingly canceled Lambert’s other live performances on ABC that would have increased Lambert’s album release sales? It was not Adam’s act but ABC’s reaction that caused the uproar. When Adam’s ABC appearances were canceled fans reacted by trending a message on twitter, “Shame on you ABC”.
That does not mean that Lambert was not also attacked by bigots, both covert and overt. Female entertainers have been exploiting their sexuality for years. Adam was singled out not only because he is gay but also because he is a gay man who oozes sexuality. His Alpha male strutting is not the stereotypical representation of the feminized gay man in America. Lambert’s lyrical interpretation of “For Your Entertainment” was shocking to the norms of society not because it was any more sexually suggestive than other acts that night but because how dare a gay man display that he is in touch with the pleasures of the flesh! Here we have a daily double, both homophobia and gender discrimination.
What kind of pressure was Lambert under during his AMA performance? After all, Lambert believed his lost a singing contest he should have easily won because he is gay. Then there was the Out Magazine dispute. The Out editor accused Adam of being a puppet who was not allowed to appear to be “too gay”. Adam was pulled in polar directions. Lambert was bombarded with the notion that he was too gay to win American Idol but not gay enough for the gays. Was there anyone Adam Lambert could please?
Did Adam respond to a subconscious angst, from feeling that his country let his sexuality get in the way of his desire to be just an entertainer? Adam said “Literally, as I did it, I went, ‘Oh god, what am I doing?’ ” He explained, “I was out of body. You know, the finger was to the people that have been criticizing me. The finger was to the people who doubt me. The finger was to the people that were about to censor me. The finger was not to fans or people who support me at all, by any means.”
Adam may have pushed the envelope a little for his first time back in front of a large television audience but can anyone blame the kid who just wants to sing in a society that continues to pull him in opposing directions? Isn’t that the same angst that all LGBT youth feel? How much more courage does it take just to live your life?
There is no doubt that Adam Lambert has been greatly targeted by our societies’ anti gay crusade. Radical groups are really quite frightening. Hate groups protested some of Adam Lambert’s concerts but a good sign was that they were outnumbered by anti hate protesters. Here in the US DJ’s make snide homophobic comments before playing his music. Some will not play his music at all.
Michael Catherwood and Catt Sadler from the nightly Entertainment Television program recently felt the wrath of Adam’s fans when Catherwood, commenting on a paparazzo incident involving Lambert said, “From what I know about jail, Mr. Lambert probably wouldn’t have too bad a time.” Sadler laughed at this obvious bigotry. The outrage from Lambert’s fans forced a network apology. It was a small step forward but just today Adam Lambert was snubbed by the AMA’s when vocally he is unmatched by any of the nominees. Now Lambert is traveling internationally where there are 93 countries around the world in which it is a criminal offense to have homosexual sex and in 7 countries it is punishable by death.
Adam Lambert without a doubt is one of the most talented and technically skilled male vocalists in the industry today. He is the best live performer I have ever seen. Why does his sexuality make headlines more than his spectacular performances?
The way we have treated Adam Lambert is a lesson on why LGBT youth in America feel so alienated. Why should anyone be judged by their orientation? Shouldn’t they be judged by the quality of their character? Adam Lambert has amazing talent, generosity, kindness, humility, intelligence, creativity, sense of humor, gentility, sensitivity, charisma, talent, personality, and an energy that may very well heal the world of this particular kind of hate. If we continue to treat Adam Lambert badly what will the LGBT children think? Click to view each:
Top13- Black or White
Top 13 “I have Nothing to Hide” Interview
Top 11 – Ring of Fire
Top 10 – Track of My Tears
Top Mad World
Final A Change is Gonna Come
Bill O’Reilly – Adam Lambert
Adam’s recent twitters:
While I don’t believe that my glamnation tour is in any way offensive I have agreed to make a few minor adjustments out of respect for the Malaysian government. Looking forward to a fun show. Does my show “promote the gay lifestyle”? It promotes living ANY lifestyle that includes the freedom to seek love and intimacy. Gay, straight, bi, young or old. It’s all inclusive.plus, what’s THE gay lifestyle? There isnt just one. There are so many different kinds of gay people. We have a variety of different lifestyles. There’s not only one lifestyle lived by straight folks. Generalizing….
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