Here's a stereotype switcheroo for you. I (Straight Guy) am a long-time American Idol addict but Gay Guy has absolutely no interest in the show. And, not that it matters much, but I am rooting for the gay front runner this season, Adam Lambert.
He's talented, fun, interesting, and unique. He might have outsung every other contestant on every single week of this competition so far. He's never bombed or lazily phoned it in. He has a ton of confidence on stage, but outside of his performances, he seems like a humble, genuinely nice guy. I don't know that anyone has ever dominated the competition in the way he has and I think his "bottom three" ranking a few weeks ago was probably due to voter fatigue from the fans who were mistakenly assured that he was a sure thing. They won't make the same mistake twice.
So what does any of that have to do with his orientation? Not much except that maybe the "performance gene" seems to often be co-activated with the "gay gene"... must be right next door to each other on the RNA strand. Look, the dude is addicted to guyliner, hairspray, and a wardrobe that would also work for Cher. He has a background in musical theater (playing Fiyero in Wicked, and yes, I googled that), and works an affected snarl for his closeups. So maybe his theatricality and fabulousness are enhancing his routines, but not every drama queen can sing, right? I realize that glam is not synonymous with gay, especially in rock and roll (hello, Prince!). But for Adam, the combination of style and talent add up to a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
The rest of the media is making too much of a big deal about this (see EW's cover story this week). But since GG and I have framed our blog around these types of discussions, it's fair game (and definitely not sensationalist) for us. Apparently, the deal is that Adam is out in private and not out in public. He doesn't deny anything, but I can respect that we're all allowed to set our own boundaries. The show hasn't provided very much background on Adam, though, especially in comparison to the other two guys in the final three. Maybe it's too complicated for them to package.
Here's a quote from EW:
As a culture, we like gay underdogs, but on reality-competition shows, we haven't seen many Adams before — someone who enjoys selling his sexuality, who looks you in the eye, flirts, and dares you not to flirt back. We're fine with gay men as vulnerable lost souls singing suicide-hotline emo ballads like ''Mad World.'' But what's exciting about Adam is that, despite that superb performance, he really isn't that guy. He's out, loud, and proud. Well, two out of three.
Many readers will say ''Why are we even discussing this? Why does it matter whether he's gay or not?'' It doesn't. Or rather, it shouldn't. Except that unlike his counterparts, who commodify their lives on their sleeves, Adam isn't talking about it. He's handled inquiries with disarming jokiness. Ambushed recently by a TMZ reporter who said, awkwardly, ''So, you could be the first...,'' Adam replied, smiling, ''The first what?'' daring the reporter to finish the thought. He didn't. But neither did Adam. Maybe it's still too costly to say who you are. It's certainly costly not to. Does he feel he can't? Does the show feel he shouldn't? Is his choice personal or strategic? Will it pay off? And does any of this represent progress?
So here's my question, readers and GG: Why do the girls continue to get unhinged for this guy? They certainly seem more crazed for him than the other competitors. You see them in the audience, screaming, shaking, and losing their composure like fangirls have always done, dating back to Elvis and the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. One recently broke through security and rushed the stage at Adam's hometown concert. These are not critical assessments of his craft, these are hormones run amok. I refuse to believe that it's because they have no idea that Adam's gay. They must know by now that he's not straight. GG hasn't seen the show, but his gaydar went off when I showed him a single photo.
But, I thought that the fantasy had more to do with the faint possibility that the stars could love a fan back, if only they had the chance to get to know each other. That it wasn't only about hormones and proximity. With a straight rock star, there's always the hope that a fan could get noticed and become a groupie, that a groupie could become a girlfriend, that a girlfriend could become a wife. That's the fantasy that won't happen with Adam. It should crush a fangirl's heart to know that a middle-aged straight guy (yeah, I said it) has a better chance than they do, but it doesn't seem to be slowing them down.
Is it the lure of forbidden fruit? Do they dream they can convert him?
Sure, straight women and gay men connect all the time as friends and confidants. Of course you can be "hot" to the opposite sex, even if you are gay, out, or both. Crazed female fans have always been more bonkers than guys. Yeah, straight guys do some nutty stuff in the name of fandom (hello, NASCAR!, hello, ComicCon!). But girls usually get this right... they throw their panties at Elvis, Jay Z, and John Mayer and keep their composure for Barry Manilow, Elton John, and the Scissor Sisters dude.
The crucial voting block for American Idol is probably girls aged 10 - 20... you can't win without their support. I think Adam has them right where he wants them... whether he wants them or not.