Five reasons America IS ready for American Idol's Adam Lambert
By Noah Michelson
3. American Idol is the ultimate popularity and merit super-contest, and since the beginning of time it's queers who have implicitly understood the cruel reality that when you're different you have to be twice as awesome and work twice as hard to get people to like you. In Idol-land you're rewarded accordingly, if you play your cards right and smart. Adam himself cited his theater experience as one reason he should win, saying that he knows how to give a live audience what they want. And then the plain truth of the matter is he's got the best voice of the season. That's not always enough to win -- just ask Jennifer Hudson -- but it certainly won't hurt. Like every queer before him, Adam seems to already know that he can't win by a tiny margin (see again: Obama). He has to blow the roof off the place. And so he does.
4. Things straight people like: Gay people who are "themselves" and aren't "ashamed." Here's another nasty truth -- it's straight America who is most in love with the coming out narrative, who want to congratulate us for "being brave" and "honest." But also gay pop culture has changed enough in the last eight seasons that the idea that another Clay could come along and dodge every question and yet be obviously flaming -- well, it's sort of embarrassing for everyone who was involved in that cover-up. So a candidate who happily confirms that yes, that's me kissing that guy in that photo, and by the way, here are my totally normal-looking parents who love me unconditionally is just what America wants to prove it's long past ready for. (This is also my argument for why I expect producers will do a "gay bio" package for Adam at some point, and also why someone like Ellen grilling Judge #4 about why she didn't like Adam -- she does, she really does! -- further makes him feel like a safe bet for anyone who isn't praying for his soul every week.)
5. As much as it will break my queer little heart if he somehow gets the shaft this season and goes home early, the fact is he's already done what he came to Idol to accomplish. People know his name. They know his face. They know he can sing the fuck out of any kind of music but is still rooted in a strong sense of what kind of singer he wants to be. He'll do an album and tour on his own now regardless of whether he's pinned up in the butterfly case of Idol winners. People have been saying, without much real evidence, that mainstream America isn't ready yet for an out, obviously and unabashedly queer musician, and Adam's already proved them wrong.
-- SHANA NAOMI KROCHMAL
For more from Shana, head over to her ultra-gay, ultra-fabulous blog Be Gay Little Bird.