Adam Lambert's dance around his sexuality frustrates the blogosphere
"American Idol" may have ended last Wednesday with the coronation of Kris Allen, but the "Idol" news cycle continues. And since one controversy wasn't enough this week, the specious voting story (that is, whether AT&T unfairly tilted the final vote toward Allen) has been replaced by an increasingly loud call for Adam Lambert to come out as gay.
Toward the beginning of the "Idol" season, photos of Lambert kissing another man and appearing in drag leaked onto the Internet. But without any declarations from Lambert himself, the mainstream media found itself confusedly trying to describe his sexuality in a way that does not happen with seemingly straight celebrities. As Frank Rich wrote in his column Sunday, "Lambert was 'widely assumed to be gay' (Entertainment Weekly), 'seemingly gay' (The Times) and 'flam-bam-boyantly queeny' (Rolling Stone)."
Such linguistic pretzels about how to describe people who appear to be living out gay lives or having same-sex relationships have become increasingly familiar to anyone who paid attention to the Lindsay Lohan/Samantha Ronson saga over the last year.
But with Lambert, now that the competition is over, the blogosphere wants concrete answers. And unsurprisingly, that campaign is being led by Perez Hilton, who has called Lambert "publicly closeted," and written that "Right now, we need VISIBILITY, not ambiguity!"
But has the delay in any "yep, I'm gay" proclamations from Lambert been a result of an exclusive interview agreement with Rolling Stone, not because he's actually trying to hide anything?
Page Six reported this today:
"AMERICAN Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert has steadfastly refused to talk about his sexuality despite photos of him on his Web site tongue-kissing men and dressed in full drag -- but not for much longer. A well-placed magazine source tells Page Six that Lambert will be coming out officially on the next cover of Rolling Stone."
(For the record, a Lambert representative would not confirm that to be true -- but multiple other sources did, and Vanessa Grigoriadis, a Rolling Stone reporter, was seen at the "Idol" finale.)
And so it is that Lambert has gotten caught up in the competitive world of celebrity journalism where personal admissions are commodities to be peddled.
But there are wildly different markets for such fodder. On one side, there are mainstream print outlets, most of which still have conservative standards for language and verification, vying for exclusives; on the other, there are the blogs that can post things quickly and without confirmation, and are therefore often first, regardless of whether they are sometimes factually wrong.
Which leaves Lambert in a netherworld of ambiguity until the next Rolling Stone is published. In an interview he did with People.com, put up on the site on Wednesday, contained this tease within it: "So to those who speculate about his sexuality, he has a message. 'Calm down,' he says, and 'keep speculating.' "
But Hilton doesn't want to calm down. In an interview over IM, he wrote that he met Lambert toward the end of "Idol," and Lambert told him "he was going to 'do right' by the gay community once the show was over."
"Well," Hilton continued. "I'm waiting Adam Lambert! The only person he's been doing 'right' by is himself. The fact that he's gay, which he is, that's not a big deal. But he's making it into a big deal by dancing around it and mocking the issue."
Complicating the issue even further is Kara DioGuardi's Friday appearance on "The View." When asked by the ladies of the show whether Lambert would come out soon, DioGuardi responded by saying, "I don't think that Adam was ever in -- I think he was always openly out."
Barbara Walters then pressed her about whether Lambert is gay, and DioGuardi said: "I never thought he wasn't."
DioGuardi not only knows Lambert personally and professionally, but in this case, she also appears to be standing on firm logical ground. Yet, the "View" interview has set off another round of fireworks about whether she "outed" Lambert.
"I'm still not sure how I feel about Lambert's persistent coyness about his sexual orientation," wrote Kerrie Mitchell on EW.com. "I'm pretty sure though that Kara DioGuardi isn't really the person who needs to weigh in about it."
But why not? If Lambert chooses not to discuss the question, or to delay the question, does that mean that people who know him should also be silent? And how should the mainstream media treat these sorts circumstances?
Let us know what you think.
-- Kate Aurthur