Out Idol Becomes One to Beat

March 11, 2009
Fox's American Idol kicked off their Top 13 this week, and out performer Adam Lambert showed off his superstar appeal with an audience-pleasing cover of Michael Jackson's "Black or White," a clear anthem for equality. With that, he became the contestant to beat as the judges unanimously declared him the best performer of the evening. The overwhelming praise, even from judge Simon Cowell, caught the artist by surprise as he seemed to be holding back tears. At age 26, Adam just came off of a two-year stint as a member of the Wicked ensemble in Los Angeles—which adds to his seasoned ability to command the Idol stage. He's also been a regular performer on the local LGBT benefit circuit and has performed often with the LGBT-centric Upright Cabaret, where Neil Patrick Harris and Michael Urie have also taken the stage (check out YouTube for a sampling of some of Adam's greatest hits to date). As usual, Idol showcases their finalists with video vignettes about their personal lives, their family, spouses, loved ones and children. To date, we've met Adam's parents and it will be interesting to see if the show will give viewers a chance to meet Adam's friends or significant other, if indeed he's currently involved. His official Idol online profile reveals that his proudest moment in life has been "falling in love." While on-air, Idol has yet to specifically make it clear that Adam is out, a column in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times may just help push the needle. On the front page of the Calendar section, above the fold was a full-color photo of Adam next to the headline: "American Idol Needs to Open the Closet Door." Writer Ann Powers called for the show to end the "fiction" it dispenses of a "unified mainstream," and for host Ryan Seacrest and judge Simon Cowell to cease the frat-boy homophobic innuendos which GLAAD has called them on the carpet for in the past. When we asked Fox directly yesterday if there are other out contestants this season, we were told that the network doesn't ask Idol contestants their sexual orientation. They may not ask, but in the coming weeks, producers shouldn't omit information about Adam's life when they have an opportunity to do good (Hello? Idol Gives Back!) by reaching millions of young people who can look up to an out Idol contestant as a role model on the road to success. While the judges may consider Adam the front runner for now, there are ten weeks to go in the competition and Adam will need national support to keep him in the running. So keep those call-in votes coming!