Adam Lambert appeared on this past Tuesday's episode of "Oprah" (see my post titled "Adam Lambert," dated December 23, 2009), and he may just have redeemed himself (although he didn't have much to redeem himself for).
Of course, the issue of Lambert being gay came up on the show. I use the word issue, but, as far as he's concerned, there's no issue. As I've written before, Lambert was out as a gay man long before he admitted he was gay in "Rolling Stone," shortly after last year's season of "American Idol" ended in May. Oprah asked him if he was given the option of formally coming out when rumors circulated about his sexual orientation while appearing on "Idol," and he told her that he was but thought against it. He didn't want the gay label attached to him, thereby avoiding conclusions made about him as a result.
Continuing on the subject of being gay, Lambert said the following: "I've seen a lot of press where they say 'openly gay singer Adam Lambert.' It's like the gay part comes before the singer part, and I'm like, 'That doesn't define who I am [source: Oprah.com].'"
That's what I've been talking about in previous posts. Enough said about that.
But I can't let this opportunity go by without making one more point: Adam Lambert is a trailblazer, of sorts. I won't pretend he's the first man in the public eye to come out--there have been a few before him--but just how many? When I think about it, not many. Here are some that readily come to mind: Lance Bass (formerly from 'N Sync); Neil Patrick Harris ("Doogie Howser, M.D.," currently "How I Met Your Mother," host of numerous awards shows); Richard Chamberlain ("Dr. Kildaire" and TV mini-series "Shogun" and "The Thorn Birds"); Chad Allen ("Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman"); Rupert Everett ("My Best Friend's Wedding," "Shakespeare in Love"); George Michael (pop singer formerly from Wham). And that's about it.
Adam Lambert is from a new generation of performers who didn't wait until he had a broad base of adoring fans before he came out. He first became well-known, and garnered loyal fans, while appearing on "Idol," when his sexual orientation was obvious to some but strangely ambiguous to others, and he wasn't officially looked at as being gay until after the "Rolling Stone" confirmation. So, like him or hate him, whether for his singing or his homosexuality, Lambert is out, and there's no going back in the closet now. His success will be determined in part by his talent, that either endures or doesn't in a world with the attention span of a hummingbird, and in part by people's acceptance, or lack thereof, of his sexual orientation.
I suspect it's easier for men in the music business to be out--although ask George Michael, who suffered for many years from not being able to be himself for fear that his millions of female fans would dessert him and his career would dive in the dumper as a result--because they're not necessarily presented as female-loving heterosexuals. Some male actors, on the other hand, presented in motion pictures as leading men, romantically involved on-screen with many of today's leading actresses, are another thing altogether.
For some reason, to be taken seriously as romantic leads, these same men must be seen by the public as being straight themselves, or they risk appearing unbelievable in their roles. I don't see how an actor's sexual orientation in real life has anything to do with being taken seriously in romantic roles with women. After all, they are not actors, for heaven's sake. They act for a living. If they can't act like they're madly, passionately in love with their female costars, then they shouldn't be actors, plain and simple.
But I'm not so naive to fail realizing that the boundaries between an actor's real life and screen life are often blurred, especially if the actor in question is young (not always necessary), handsome (almost always necessary), and a great lover on the screen (again, not always necessary but preferable). Today, as has always been the case, I suppose, some women--and men--are held spellbound by the magic a few choice actors create on screen with their female costars, and their sexual prowess in the movies is often confused with their imagined sexual prowess in real life, thereby generating a fevered desire for them and contributing to the hysteria surrounding them in their real lives.
Robert Pattison, from the "Twilight" movies, is a spectacular recent example. One can only wonder, after all those young ladies around the world fall over themselves for a piece of him, no matter how small, remote, or trivial, what their reaction toward him would be if he publicly revealed that he's gay (of course, the gay men who fell in love with him would be beside themselves following such an announcement, but, unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons).*
But back to the subject of Adam Lambert, the good news is that, every time someone like him comes out, presenting himself with loads of talent and star power, as well as straightforwardness, humility, respect, and all those good things, and people take to him, especially the younger generation, another step is taken toward a greater understanding and acceptance of people who are gay.
Lambert is a very visible example of an up-and-coming star, who happens to be gay, and, like Oprah said, he's a groundbreaker. What he does today will pave the way even further for the celebrities of tomorrow, who happen to be gay, whether they be singers or actors, in whatever area of show business. If you know Adam Lambert through his appearances on "American Idol," his interview in "Rolling Stone," and his latest CD "For Your Entertainment," and you like him as a person and appreciate his talent, you know a gay person--you can't say that you don't anymore--and there's no excuse for not accepting other gay people, whether they be in your family, among your friends, at your workplace, or in the performing arts.
Thank-you, Adam, for being you and being out. You've already made a difference in the world, by being who you are, through your talent and through your honesty about your sexual orientation, and you set a great example for other gay people around the world.
* I hasten to add that I believe actors and actresses should be appreciated and respected for their work, and not for who they are as people in their real lives--unless, of course, they do something truly admirable. Otherwise, they are people like all the rest of us, and deserving of no more and no less admiration and respect as we might give to anyone else in our lives.