Thursday, 19 November 2009

Out of Order

Much has been said of the controversial letter by Aaron Hicklin, Editor in Chief of Out, addressed to Adam Lambert. His veiled criticisms of Adam through his management, accusing them of toning down his gayness has annoyed many. Whilst it won't get me spouting vitriol, I don't think the letter has done Out any favours. It was an irritation that this came on the day of the album's streaming and overshadowed it a little.

I think Hicklin did have a valid point to make, but it lost support because he stuck the knives in before rolling it around in bullshit. After reading the interviewer's response, the heart of all the controversy seems to have been triggered by Adam's publicist not wanting the interview to sound 'too gay' and wanting to stay away from politics. There was no clarification of what exactly 'too gay' meant and we don't have the full context. Had Adam evaded talk about being gay in the interview, then Hicklin would have had a case. As it was, Adam gave a fascinating, enlightening and frank interview, talking openly about matters relating to his homosexuality. It's interesting, and perhaps deceptive, that the article in print is an edited version of the one online which I think has been spun to lend support to Hicklin's letter. From the results of the online interview though, there's scant justification for launching into a tirade about how Adam's management has been de-gaying his image. From all the evidence of his work so far, whether it's his song lyrics, his appearance or his album cover, this rant just makes Hicklin appear ill-informed. I can see why Hicklin took exception to the publicist wanting Out to tone down the gayness, but considering the results, it's a complete a non-issue. Laying into him for the Details article for not mentioning gay fans just seems petty and smacks of sour grapes. I mean, seriously, would only a public display of sodomy be enough for him? There are a multitude of reasons why Adam's management may have chosen to turn down the cover but Hicklin went for headline-grabbing homophobia. Coat-tails anyone?

While I think Hicklin has done his cause no favours through his bitchiness and inability to demonstrate his backing of an emerging gay artist, Adam on the other hand, I think has done plenty. He's played a part in challenging a number of gay stereotypes and has done much more for awareness — by living openly and unapologetically and in doing so, encouraging others to not be afraid — than by getting on any soap-box. The problem Adam faces is that, like it or not, and despite stating that he doesn't want to become the poster-boy for gay rights, he won't be able to completely escape the politics and the burden of responsibility thrust upon him. That could have been one of the many reasons for turning down an Out cover. The pressure of being put on a pedestal to represent the gay community must be immense and is not something a heterosexual counterpart is required to bear.

We should respect that Adam doesn't want to be a political figure and just wants to make music now. It's out of order to expect him to follow paths that we dictate or to feel disappointed when he doesn't. Entitlement is not sexy. It may be frustrating for those who want Adam to champion their causes because the set of qualities that create such buzz around him would put him in good stead for being a successful torch-bearer. He makes a great role-model and I can see why some would want him to front their campaigns. Looking at the curt reponse he tweeted, it was perfect: mildly sympathetic, assertive, sarcastic and with the right amount of venom for an appropriate bitchslap. Not only does he handle himself expertly in the media, but he comes across as thoughtful, articulate, intelligent, honest, bold, proud of his sexuality and a great orator. He possesses the exceptional ability to inspire, and right now he's choosing to do that through his music.


  1. Well,written and so true!! Adam definitely has a handle on his career and how he wants to present himself and he has done it with tons of class. It's perfect when he says it's just not that deep. This is about the music and I for one am thoroughly enjoying Adam's music!!

  2. Thank you for weighing in on this story! The whole thing made me very depressed and totally took away from my enjoyment of Adam's amazing music. Visiting various blogs and idol forums made me realize for the first time what kind of obstacles Adam is facing coming at him from so many different directions: homophobes, just haters, some fans of other AI contestants, and even from the gay community. How many are wishing for his failure....Of course I feel better today after Adam's tweets and so many wonderful and articulate responses. But that bad taste is still with me and I can see how his path may be much more difficult than I thought. He will be OK though. Stay strong, Adam!

  3. Great review. This is how our society is right now, gay or not, power is what people hunt for. Looking at how Adam take it, I'm relieved. I know he will be fine. And he will continuous share with us for who he is through his music. That will be many years around. :) ~K

  4. Anonymous, I think people have trouble accepting that Adam just wants to have some shallow fun because he seems like such an intelligent and deep thinker. It makes it easy for people to project all sorts of issues onto him. And yes, just as you said, he's managed to stay classy throughout.

    ad, yes, it annoyed me that instead of just celebrating hearing the album, the music had to share the limelight with that letter. It's a huge burden for him that there will be people like Hicklin who are counting on Adam to fight for their causes and are then hypercritical about every move he makes. There's a lot of diversity in the gay community so perhaps that's one of the reasons why it can be so negative. Bitching about Adam being too x or not y enough to be their representative doesn't help advance the cause. I think it needs to accept this diversity and avoid creating stereotypes for Adam (or any other gay celebrity) to follow. And then there are the haters. I think Adam is doing well at navigating around these obstacles you've described so I wouldn't worry too much. This latest controversy definitely has Adam coming out on top ;)

    k65535, yes, it should all be about the music. In the Out interview there wasn't much about the music and lots about being gay. Hicklin really did bite the hand that fed him and has achieved notoriety for being ungrateful.

  5. Hi Adam Bombed (from South America again) The thing is... I feel this interview was less about being gay and more about being human. What Adam says in this interview is exactly the way most of us feel, but do not talk about (and it does not matter if you are gay or not). What makes him even wiser is the fact that he is aware that life changes and so do we, and that there's not an exact, permanent truth out there. He, on the other hand, appears to accept other's ideas and feelings and tries to learn from them to enrich his own life. He is opened to what life has to give him.
    Living is about taking risks, and he does take them, despite the consequences sometimes. He does not seem to regret much, on the contrary, he embraces every one of these moments (good or bad) and grabs the good even from the bad. That is what life is about. That, I think, is part of what has made him such an insightful (and intelligent) 27 year old boy.

  6. Right on adam bombed! (from australia) and I agree with everybody's comments. It's not suprising everybody wants to get on the band wagon to promote their cause or push their political agenda on the coat tails of Adam, an emerging superstar! Hicklin and Out magazine is no different...although he is entitled to his opinion (for what it's worth?), its not a majority view from the gay community or any other community for that matter. It's back to the music as K65535 has put it, and boy is adam's album going to be a mega monster hit!

  7. Adam Bombed, what really PIXX me off is, how Aaron brats about that it is easier to ask Kris Allen to do the cover. Well, then go ahead. I meant, if people don't want to be tagged, then why do they tag others. Why it is ok for a straight guy to share his thought on the topics he chose, but it is not ok for a gay to do the same? If people stretched so much to emphasis on their differences. Then in the end, others will only look at those differences and ignore the fact that we are all human being. Sorry for the language & the editing. :x

    Back to music, AMA is on this Sunday. And this is only the rehearsal photos / video. I really can't wait.

  8. The best response I've seen to this whole thing is the spoof in the Huffington Post. I'm lame at technology, so don't know how to post it here, but if folks haven't read it, please do take a moment to do so. Sadly, it seems to be a fact of life that in minority communities tend to turn in on ourselves over ideological issues. I've experienced this again and again in both the women's movment and queer the same time I've experienced an exhilerating sense of validation and room for exploration in both of these communities. A confusing paradox. And of course, community, is said very loosely as there really is no one monolithic communities, rather loosely connected groups of people, ideas, iconographies. I imagine that one of the reasons that Adam mentions Burning Man again and again is that the Burning Man experience is all about that exhileration and exuberant creativity that is at the heart of all that I love about being queer, no, make that human. The reality is that in a world with few openly gay stars, those who do come out will inevitably bear the burden of our projected hopes and fears. As you point out, Adam will need to continue to manage this as he moves forward in his career. I absolutely adored his on-line interview for OUT. As a lesbian, I had to laugh at his comments about oral sex with a woman (gee he didn't enjoy that...hmmm..maybe he is a gay man!) I only bring that up because I was struck by how incredibly open he was in this interview....and in some ways felt protective of him. It's that old celebrity dilemma of how much to be an open book, how much to lay yourself bare to a public that will inevitably only want more, and when to carefully craft a persona for public consumption. I suspect that Adam felt safe to talk openly with Out exactly because it was his community....but in a sad way he was even more vulnerable here. At the same time, I have to agree that it is just gross that his managers tried to manage the level of "gayness" in his images in the magazine...and if they did, then it definitely makes sense that OUT called them on it. It's just that the letter should never have been addressed to Adam...that was slimely and ungrateful. It's really unclear to me whether Adam was aware of his management's position or not. If he was aware, then his interview is even more subversive and audacious. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'm finally going to focus on listening to the music. By the way, I love having this conversation with folks in Australia, England, South I'm in a little tiny town in the mountains of California.

  9. I'm happy to see how people are touched by Adam Lambert and feel sorry for him. But one of the reason I adore him is how he respond to the negativity.

    There are many minorities in this world. Look at how some women being treated in some third world countries, I consider myself damn lucky.
    Sometimes, we just have to look at the bright side and find a way to deal with it. Sometimes, it might not be collecting trophies for your minority. Sometime, it might be just striking for your dream. And we all know, striking your dream as a minority, meant you have to work 3 or 4 time harder to get a chance.

    I think Adam is damn proud of the tag he have. But it doesn't mean every action he does is a representation of his tag. In most of the time, I think he is just living a life for himself, no body else.

    Yes, we all do have our responsibility for our tags. But we often forget one of our tag is human being. I sometimes am confused about what people want Adam to achieve. To fight crime? Well, it's time for me to sigh now. I try to avoid the topic but I guess I could never be. I love coming to this site, reading Adam Bombed's review and comments from all around the world. Thanks for your time. ~K

  10. Anonymous from South America, you're right - it was about life and being gay is just one aspect of it. I'm always impressed by his exceptional self-awareness and his seemingly unwavering positivity.

    Anonymous from Australia, I too am looking forward to seeing the Adam Lambert phenomenon explode! Has he received much press down under?

    k65535, no need to worry about bad language here! I think campaigning for minority rights is a very tricky situation. Whilst you want to everyone to feel you're no different, choosing someone to represent you does highlight the differences because you end up labelling them.

    Idahophoenix, I did read that Huffington Post article - I loved the sarcasm but the Independent Gay Forum article expressed my thoughts best, much better than I did above. I think just by being open and himself, Adam is helping. He doesn't need to be political to make a difference because he's already helping people to feel more courageous about being out. We know that Adam specifically requested not to be dragged into politics and here's the latest response from Hicklin, which just seems kind of lame to me.
    Yes, we have representatives from four continents in this conversation! It just goes to prove Adam's appeal. Am so excited about the AMA performance.