Is Adam Lambert Gay? Do We Care?

gayidol_spanI’m not averse to calling a same-sexer winning “American Idol,” many of whose current contestants are pictured above, a mini-milestone moment in pop culture. But when I read Guy Trebay’s New York Times piece asking whether this year’s leading “Idol” contestant Adam Lambert is gay I had to glance at my iMac calendar to check what year it was.

Reassured that it was indeed 2009, I then had to spend a second remembering how many times over the past two decades I had read — even worse: been quoted in — this same kind of piece. You know, the kind that informs us that even though we’re living in a “post-[fill-in-the-blank] moment” when anybody under the age of 40 couldn’t give a shit about a celebrity’s sexuality that we nonetheless have to discover for the Times readers the existence of gay or gayish singers and actors who are — gasp! — exceedingly popular.

It’s almost laughable at this point how extraordinarily clueless the Times is about what’s going on in America’s perception of sexuality. That obtuseness is reflected not only in the point of view of Trebay (a writer I usually admire) but in way the Times has been covering the same-sex marriage decision in Iowa (latest purveyor: Maureen Dowd).

Cocooned in New York or California, the paper’s writers keep rubbing their eyes to reassure themselves that fair-minded people exist between the coasts and that you don’t have to live in the East Village or Silverlake to be able to get away with putting on eyeliner just after your after-shave. It’s long past tiresome to have this “news” brought to us by talents like Trebay, whose stories give off an aura of: Believe me, I’m very clued-in, but I have to write my story so as not to unsettle the Lady in Scarsdale.

With Lambert, the Times wants to present as news the possibility that Lambert may be popular enough with millions of “Idol” voters to take the big trophy on the nation’s most popular regular TV show. As if performers of the past 25 years who have sold albums to just as many millions of people don’t quite measure up to the possible democratic dimensions of a Lambert triumph. And as if make-up-loving Pete Wentz on the cover of a gay magazine is novel; Jesus Christ, David Bowie did that almost 40 years ago.

If, because of much more limited technology, speculation about Bowie’s sexuality then wasn’t as deafening as the talk about Lambert’s is now, it was pretty darn loud about k.d. lang before she did her coming-out interview with me: that was 17 years ago. Doris Lessing once said, “Every generation thinks that it discovered sex.” Similarly, every generation wants to think that its gay-pop-star story is more mega.

One Comment to “Is Adam Lambert Gay? Do We Care?”

  1. yes and yes

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