Adam Lambert quickly rose to fame following his journey on “American Idol” back in 2009 but, with his newfound fame, came controversy about his sexuality.
However, Lambert wasn’t going to let naysayers rain on his parade. While accepting an award at The Creative Coalition’s annual Spotlight Initiative Awards Gala Dinner with Entertainment Weekly over the weekend, the 40-year-old singer recounted how the homophobia he experienced post-“Idol” made him more confident.
“Once I got off the show, I got signed a record contract. There was an Entertainment Weekly article that was like, ‘Oh, this guy’s exciting, and it may or not be because he might be gay.’ And I was like, ‘Might be?!’,” the “Idol” runner-up recalled.
Lambert described his career after the show as a “very interesting journey” because “there were no gay guys. It was kind of the Wild West in terms of that,” he said.
He then looked back on a controversial performance he did for his debut single “For Your Entertainment” at the 2009 American Music Awards.
“I did the kind of performance I had seen since I was a teenager. I was kind of sexy, and had dancers on stage, and I did a couple of suggestive moves with a couple of dancers, and an impromptu kiss with my bass player. I was feeling it,” Lambert recalled. “Well, I got off stage and I got in trouble. The network was like, ‘How dare you?’ They banned me for a while. They threatened me with a lawsuit.”
“It was like, ‘Oh, OK, that’s where we’re at.’ I didn’t know,” he remembered his initial reaction. “I’d been in a bubble in L.A. amongst artists, weirdos, and I didn’t realize that kind of thing would ruffle feathers the way it did.”
Lambert was then motivated to work hard and “affect change” for the LGBTQ+ community.
“I was like, ‘Well, fine. I’m going to lean in and I’m going to be as gay as I f**king can be, and be flamboyant, and be wild. And if it gets me into trouble, it gets me into trouble, but I’m not going to back down from it.”
Now, more than 10 years later, Lambert has witnessed the impact of his commitment.
“Over the past few years, I keep meeting more and more young people that saw me when they were a kid on TV,” he shared. “They’re like, ‘Oh, you know what? You helped me talk to my parents about being gay. You made me feel like it was OK to be who I was’ — and I’m not the only one that did that for young people.”
The “If I Had You” singer-songwriter recognized how far the entertainment industry has come in terms of representing LGBTQ+ people.
“It is now a viable business move…to sign gay talent,” he said of music companies.
The awards ceremony took place during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Saturday where Lambert’s debut film “Fairyland” premiered.
“It’s a story about a father raising his daughter on his own in San Francisco in the 1970s, and it’s the Gay Liberation Movement and then into the 1980s with the AIDS epidemic,” he detailed the coming-of-age story.
Lambert called the acting gig “a whole new venture,” adding that he loves “being a part of something like this [that] can affect change.”
“Visibility is so powerful,” he told the crowd. “The LGBTQ community has been under attack for a long time. We’re under attack again. There’s a lot of conservative pushback and making art that represents the queer experience and stars queer people, that gives the LGBTQ community strength, hope.”
Although Lambert noted that “There’s still work to be done,” he shared that he’s “so proud of the work that’s been done so far.”