In Praise of Adam Lambert
"Part of what I love about being a live performer is that sometimes you just are in the moment and sometimes things just happen.."
I come to praise Adam Lambert, not to bury him.
This is an artist I really want to meet.
When a bunch of gay activists complained a few months ago that he was not political enough he told them to leave him alone and let him sing. When Out Magazine complained he was not supportive enough of gay rights, he told them to screw off with a series of four letter words. He basically has sent a message that he is going to be his own man, set his own agenda, and carve out his own musical path.
Adam Lambert has asked to be accepted, if at all, as a performer, and not to worry about his role as a political activist. The gay community has somehow demanded of him to be something he is not. But in his own way, on Sunday, he became, if not a gay rights activist, America’s most notable gay performer. In a small way, with a simple act, he displayed more courage than any gay artist ever before him- in case you are listening, Barry Manilow.
Sunday, America got a taste of this erotic and emerging male Madonna. Sending shockwaves throughout the audiences at the American Music Awards, he performed a number while allowing a male to simulate fellatio upon him, only moments after sharing a deep erotic kiss with his male keyboardist. For good measure, shades of Elvis Presley, he grabbed his crotch. Oh, not to mention the boys on leashes.
His cutting edge and groundbreaking performance should probably be commended by Gay America for its brash and open display of male upon male sexuality. It was not at the Human Rights Campaign and not at ABC. The latter promptly canceled Lambert’s scheduled performance on Good Morning America set for Tuesday morning.
Still, moderate gay activists were called out to local news stations to suggest that there was a double standard in actions by heterosexual performers compared to gay ones. Surprise. But a group of timid leaders, afraid to shake the status quo, also have been opining that Lambert used an ‘inappropriate’ forum to stage his exhibition. Yeah, tell that to Janet Jackson. If a woman does this, half of male America cheers in approval. Hypocrisy Heaven.
Here is the deal, America. Gay men kiss. Gay men grab crotches. That is what we do, preferably in private, but if it is on stage, during a performance, at nite, under the lights, designed to elicit sensuality and excitement, don’t be shocked; don’t be surprised. It is us. It is real.
Throughout the American Idol series, Adam Lambert demonstrated his ability to remain within the rules and comply with prime time TV guidelines and standards. But here he was at the American Music Awards, a show for stars and theatrics, and he brashly displays his sexuality in a way no gay male performer ever had before. That is gutsy. That is courage. No apologies from me, and good for him.
Complaints poured in about the sexually charged performance to ABC, which aired the AMA and GMA,. Supposedly, more than 1,500 people complained. Not surprising. Might even lead to a fine with the FCC. Not surprising either. As an entertainer, it may be a small price for the international exposure stars yearn for. Now who did he lose American Idol to? Can’t even remember the dude’s name.
Let’s keep this in mind. I mean it is not like he declared lives expendable to put an unsafe car on the road. He did not put lead based paint in children’s toys. Or, if you saw this evening’s news, he did not become a crib retailer knowingly marketing unsafe dropside baby cribs. Corporate America did that for decades. All Lambert did was show who Lambert was: a sensual gay performer who has made no attempt to conceal his homosexual bent. He pushed boundaries. And? That is what an artist does; should do.
Lambert summed it up best: "You know honestly, if I offended some people… it’s apples and oranges. I’m not an artist that does things for every single person," he told Access Hollywood, "I believe in artistic freedom and expression, I believe in honoring the lyrics of a song, and those lyrics aren’t really for everybody either."
Without even trying to be an exponent for free speech, artistic expression, or gay rights, in one small way, Lambert is becoming one anyway. I think it is great that he kissed a male drummer on stage, and was the first performer in America to openly do so. The sad thing is that it took until December of 2009 to get there.
Heterosexual artists have played the sensuality and sexuality card on stage for decades with no consequence or criticism. Adam Lambert is sending a cross across the bow of America to let them know gay men can also. In doing so, the kid is becoming a pioneer in his own right. Good for him. If you can’t accept it, that is your problem, not his.
If he needs a lawyer to defend him, he has got one in this writer.