Something as Too Gay?


It is well documented that I LOVE American Idol, and I constantly voted for Adam Lambert this past season. Here is an article from yesterday that said the handlers from the American Idol runner up were nervous that the gay publication, OUT, was making Lambert look “too gay”. They were so nervous because they think it will hurt his career to be known as the guy who is too gay.

Is there something as too gay? If there is, what is too gay? Can someone be too gay? Is Adam Lambert too gay? Can being too gay hurt your public career?

Here are some of my thoughts, and I’d love to hear yours as well:

I think Adam Lambert is getting caught up in the gayness of himself. There are things like this all over the place:


My thought is if Adam wants to be the slutty, sex-driven-I’ll-bang-anything-that-comes-my-way-type-of-guy, that’s ok because that’s who he wants to be portrayed as. Doesn’t mean it’s right. Doesn’t mean that will give him mass appeal (hey, that’s why there is Kris Allen). And his record label needs to understand this. They can try to tame him, keep him under-wrap, do whatever, but it’s not going to work.

For me, “too gay” is someone that is intentionally throwing their gayness and overt sexuality in your face because they can. With that definition, yes, Adam Lambert is being too gay and I think it will lose him some sales. I can see why the record label is concerned about that messing with their bottom line, however I think they’re going over the top by warning publications to not make him too gay. He is who he is, and that’s why I personally like him.

Although, I was in a shopping mall while visiting my mom and dad this past weekend and she and I picked up a magazine with Adam Lambert on the cover. When we flipped to the middle to see the pictures it was him in underwear, literally making out with a naked girl below him. I guess his record label is ok with him being too straight.

Strange. I fear that Adam Lambert is going to get too caught up in this game. I’m going to buy his album because he’s got some crazy awesome pipes and can sing the lights out of the world. I love listening to him. I just hope he doesn’t lose that trying to make a point – whatever that point is.

Much love.

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  • Steven

    Is it about being too *gay* or is it about flaunting sexuality whether you’re gay or straight?

  • Steven

    Why do the public seem “OK” with heterosexuality being blatantly flaunted but not homosexuality?

  • I thought flaunting your sexuality was something pop stars were expected to do? Sure it’s obnoxious sometimes, but so what? They’re products to be marketed. Advertising tends to be obnoxious and disconnected from reality. But I do think that there is a little bit of a double standard here as well.

  • Jack Harris

    Maybe I am a little slow this morning but I am not sure I see any specific examples of where you say he is being “too gay”. I also havent heard anything about him being “slutty” but maybe you have. Is being slutty an attribute of being “too gay”? Just asking.

    How do you define gay? I am assuming you are referring to gay men (in this case Adam) who are feminine? There is a large segment of the gay male population who are overtly masculine : this is especially true in bear and leather communities. I think one might could argue that people in those communities are “too gay”. I guess it all depends on how you define “too gay”. Of course, this is not even factoring the lesbian and bi community. I mean can you be “too bi?” I don’t know.

    As far as your question with respect to being “too gay”, I think it’s important to remember that “acting out” is connected to probably several factors. For some gay guys who are feminine, I think it’s a way to take ownership of their mannerisms and use it as a positive rather than a negative. In other words, if I am naturally feminine then I might as well be proud of it. In short I think it’s a coping/defense mechanism.

    I also think some overtly feminine guys or overtly butch lesbians are so because that’s where they are with respect to their identity. As you know, GLBT folks go through a series of stages with respect to acceptance of their sexual identity and a lot of the “overt” behavior is related to the “pride stage” or “We’re here, we’re queer, get over it” stage. OR, it could be that their mannerisms and behavior or just simply the way they are.

    As far as hurting his career? I am not sure I guess time will tell. I do hope that he isn’t being forced into behaving in a way that’s not truly him : that would be sad if it is. Although I realize that it happens a lot with promoters who try to mold their stars into something they are not.


  • I kind of agree with Peter and Steven. Like it or not, many performers market themselves through overtly sexual imagery and conduct. Madonna, Lady Gaga, 3Oh!3 all immediately spring to mind.

    I have to say that I respect Adam Lambert’s approach to acknowledging that he’s gay as opposed to folks like Clay Aiken. I mean, just be honest. If you’re going to build up the romantic backstory of other American Idol (het) performers like Kris Allen, for example, why not let Adam or Clay admit publicly during the competition their own romantic backstories?

  • “As far as hurting his career? I am not sure I guess time will tell. I do hope that he isn’t being forced into behaving in a way that’s not truly him : that would be sad if it is. Although I realize that it happens a lot with promoters who try to mold their stars into something they are not.”

    To be honest, how many American Idol performers have active singing careers these days? Not that many, as far as I’m aware anyway.

  • And this is worthy of discussion here (along with a slutty photo) exactly how and why? Man, talk about going from the sublime (praying for oppressed gays in Uganda) to the ridiculous in one day. Sorry. I don’t get it.

  • Steven – I think you can substitute ‘flaunting sexuality’ for when I said either ‘too gay’ or ‘too straight’. I totally agree with you.

    Peter – That is the part that I don’t understand! Why would the record label try to quench him instead of letting him loose? You think of some of the other notoriously famous sex-drenched artists such as Madonna, Cher, Gene Simmons, Lady Gaga (thanks Jon! I forgot about her), and almost any current rapper, it’s all good. It must just be the ‘gay’ because the one thing every one of those others have in common is they’re straight. But why the fear, is what I don’t understand. It’s not like there are not any gay celebs these days? But the one difference is that it is American Idol – even though Ellen is now a judge. It’s all just a little strange.

    Jack – Thanks for giving a thorough explanation of your thoughts regarding gay, and too gay, and the factors that contribute to acting out and gay identity. Your insights always push my thinking, and I really appreciate that. As for your questions, “slutty” does not equate ‘too gay’ in my book. I would go back to Steven here, and say that “too anything” when it comes to sexuality is the overt flaunting of it for no other reasons than 1. Just trying to make headlines or 2. Just want to throw it in someone’s face. In either of those cases I do believe that the label “too” can be appropriate at times. But then again, as Peter said, that’s what starts are set up to do.

    Jon – As a huge American Idol aficionado, here are some AI alums with actual careers:

    Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Daughtry

    🙂 I have already started my countdown to the new season starting in January.

    Debbie – I try to make this blog about all aspects of faith, sexuality and culture. The thought of someone potentially ‘too gay’ (whether a celeb or not) is a big portion of the juxtaposition between those in today’s world. This doesn’t mean that I won’t write about Uganda again, because I will. I try to keep the content fresh and relevant in all aspects surrounding this topic as there is something for all different people to resonate with.

  • I’ve never claimed to be a fan of American Idol. I’ve watched a couple songs here and there and I downloaded Lambert’s “Ring of Fire” as the ring-tone on my old cell phone, but most of the time I couldn’t tell you whose competing and who isn’t. BTW, I do know that Aiken has had a few stints on Broadway, so add him to your list of alumnis with jobs. 🙂

  • Actually, the question of what’s “too gay” seems to be a recurrent, if unspoken, issue here on this blog and in the broader Christian community. I was reading an older blog elsewhere about a Baptist church that welcomed a couple woman and their kids to their church community and allowed them to become quite involved with the church’s activities. And then the women asked to join. And then the church’s standard of DADT could no longer work. They welcomed the kids with wide arms and welcomed the moms as members as long as they actively worked towards becoming non-lesbians. Bascially, we want you to join us, but we also want you to renounce your family. Needless to say, this family didn’t join and the blogger and most of the commenters are still wondering why these lesbians just couldn’t bend.

    In my own UCC denomination, there’s the ongoing question of why churches should become open and affirming churches and don’t we already welcome gay people and besides what if people start thinking of us as the “gay church”?

    It certainly seems like a relevant question for this blog.

  • I think Ellen is fine because she’s safe. She’s a middle-aged talk show host / comedian who was never a sex symbol in the first place. She just happens to be a lesbian. Whereas Adam is young and sexy and virile, and a burgeoning pop star. But I do think there’s a definite male-centric double standard. We’re fine with female pop stars who flirt with homosexuality because that’s a male fantasy. But male pop stars who actually *are* homosexual…? I don’t think there’s a formula for that yet.

  • Wow – there it is Peter: Who are any male pop stars that are gay? None that I can think of (unless you include John Elton, but he is significantly older). Maybe his record label doesn’t want to have him be the guinea pig? But the crazy part is that they knew it going in. Oh well. We’ll see what happens.

  • “I try to keep the content fresh and relevant in all aspects surrounding this topic as there is something for all different people to resonate with.”

    I get that, and I’m fine with it. LOL. Would it matter if I weren’t? It IS your blog. I guess this one just came across as an eensie bit over the top. Or maybe it was just the timing that threw me. But hey, I’ve been an “Idol” fan, too. Even blogged about it once. It’s a cultural phenom. Just didn’t watch the past season.

  • Bill

    let's be real, to the conservative "straight world", anything they see is too gay. when can we just let everyone be themselves, with out any judgement? i pray for the day! i didn't mean you, Mr. marin!!!

  • I remember watching one of the UCC's God is Still Speaking commericals where people were various people were literally being ejected from some non-descript Christian church for being outside of the norm: single mom, gay couple, guy with a walker, Arabian-looking guy ( One of the many criticisms made was that the gay couple were "too gay". One guy in particular noted that they were crawling over each other in an inappropriate way, when they were actually sitting next to each other with one's hand over the other's shoulder.

  • Gay is synonymous with lame these days – because GLBT culture is lame.

    “Cool” matters. His handlers are trying to steer him away from the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy schtick – which has very limited appeal in the music industry.

    As Lambert tweeted himself in response to this story “It ain’t that deep”

  • Bill said: "let’s be real, to the conservative 'straight world', anything they see is too gay. when can we just let everyone be themselves, with out any judgement?"

    Bill, I can well imagine someone interchanging the words "gay" and "conservative straight" in that statement, and feeling totally justified doing it — not that they would be.

    There are conservatives gays in this world, too. My understanding, from hearing some of their observations, is that they get embarrassed over excessive eccentricity among fellow gays. It's a stereotype that Hollywood still proliferates for pure entertainment purposes.

  • Yes, Kevin, the two situations are different in that the one (gay displays of affection) touches something possibly primal in a great many folks whose guts just react, rightly or wrongly. I was merely pointing out that conservatives are often condemned outright merely for having these instinctive (to them) feelings. We all have to admit that pushing the envelope to roll back long-accepted mores is not a simple thing. There are many transoms out there to get over.

  • Valid question, Kevin. Don't know what others might say, but I think it's evident we can change our thinking about any number of things, given sufficient time or motivation. There is nothing like having a meaningful relationship with someone you then learn (as Andrew did with his friends) is gay or has something else going on in their life — perhaps a checkered past in another sense — to mess up your paradigms and cause you to hit the "reset button" in your mind. Love truly does cover a multitude of sins … or things we are uncomfortable with.

  • Kevin

    Debbie – I agree that straight conservatives are not always treated fairly in the media, but as this post is primarily touching on public displays of affection and the reactions that are generated, it does still seem like there is a double standard as Bill mentioned. No one seems to think twice when they see a heterosexual couple walking down the street holding hands as it just makes sense as a natural manifestation of their of their love for one another. But when two men or women are seen walking down the street, the attitude seems to still exist that their motivation must be to “just flaunt their relationship in everyone’s face” like they have alterior motives.
    Now in this case where Adam Lambert may very well be intentionally flaunting his sexuality just to get attention and bolster his career, he probably will get more slack and attention as this has not yet become normalized compared to the constant barrage of heterosexual sexual expression and the objectification of women in particular that has become so commonplace.

  • Kevin

    Got ya, I’m not sure if I’d be getting to far off the original topic of the thread but the thought that you brought up about some straight conservatives having some what of a primal gut reaction, rightly or wrongly, to displays of same sex displays of affections would be an interesting topic to explore. I’m primarily wondering about the experiences of straight conservatives in their relationships with those who are GLBT, as I am attracted to other men, in relation to how their gut reactions changed if they did and what brought those changes about.
    For example, in Andrew’s book he talked about how his first thoughts when one of his best friends who was a girl came out to him was the thought of two men having sex which caused him trouble in relating to his friend. Do those thoughts/feelings go away with mere exposure or does a shift in thinking have to occur. Any thoughts?

  • At least for me, it wasn't about the 'kiss' but about the 'crotch thrusting' with a dude's head. Though, some of Britany Spears/Madonna's stuff kind of weirds me out too. Maybe I'm not the right person to ask?! But I will say that while watching the full segment it did seem like he was trying really, really hard to just be controversial for the sake of being controversial – and that is kind of played out in my opinion.

  • I find it quite interesting that only a few days after I posted this the national media now can’t stop asking the same question, “Is Adam Lambert too gay”, after his performance [censored on the West Coast] on the American Music Awards. Did anyone see his performance? Quite the provocative thing…

  • I’ve seen images from it, but missed the actual performance. Seems like there is always attempts at the AMAs and similar events to create provocative sensations. I have to say that I kind of agree with Adam during a CNN interview when he noted similar kisses and simulated sexual acts during award shows — usually by women — that aren’t censored or labeled pornographic and questioned why it’s so much worse when done by a gay man.

  • Highlighting the double-standard, there are several blog articles circulating about the double-standard of how Adam's kiss is being treated. Adam's kiss was completely blurred out on the Early Show and then immediately following by clear footage of Madonna's and Britney Spears' open mouth kiss. (

    The first commenter on this particular blog was particularly interesting: "The worst part is that they ran this footage literally seconds before Maggie Rodriguez belittled Lambert's double-standard claim, using as her proof a vague claim that she hadn't personally heard anyone say the outrage was because it was two men."

  • “I have to say that I kind of agree with Adam during a CNN interview when he noted similar kisses and simulated sexual acts during award shows — usually by women — that aren’t censored or labeled pornographic and questioned why it’s so much worse when done by a gay man.”

    I haven’t seen any of the Lambert AMA images, and don’t want to. We get exposed to enough garbage without even looking for it. Sitting down in front of the TV even for a “family” show is still like playing Russian Roulette.

    Lambert was expressing the well-known double standard with regard to men and women. All’s fair in sexual exploitation and outrageousness with women. Female bisexual behavior is coveted eye-candy for many men. It’s all disgusting, as I see it. And we are sinking ever-lower in what is tolerable.

  • Here's CBS' justification for their blurring out Lambert's kiss, but not Madonna's/Britney's: "We gave this some real thought. The Madonna image is very familiar and has appeared countless times, including many times on morning television. The Adam Lambert image is a subject of great current controversy, has not been nearly as widely disseminated and, for all we know, may still lead to legal consequences." (

    Legal consequences?