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Adam Lambert, the only man I’ve ever loved

June 11, 2018

When most people hear Adam Lambert’s name, they tend to say, “That’s the guy from American Idol, right?” But people like me—whose hearts he’s left an eyeliner-smudged impact on—know him for so much more than a reality show.

In 2009, floppy haired, energetic, Adam Lambert first walked into the American Idol Season 8 audition room and sang Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I knew, in that moment, that there was a significant reason why I clung to him. As a closeted middle school kid growing up in rural Pennsylvania who didn’t even know what the closet was, Adam Lambert changed the direction of my entire childhood. But when I was sitting two feet from the television watching the finale and sobbing uncontrollably into my Adam Lambert t-shirt as he was crowned runner-up, I knew what I felt was way more than an ordinary crush.

In a post-Idol interview with Rolling Stone, Adam Lambert opened up about being gay and how the show hadn’t let him discuss his sexuality publically. For queer viewers who put their hearts, time, and votes into the glam rockstar, Lambert’s honesty symbolized a need for change in media and television representation.

I then had two formidable encounters with Adam Lambert after his stint on Idol. When the top 10 contestants from Adam Lambert’s season toured the country, I knew I wanted to see him perform live. Though my family refused to buy me tickets to the Pittsburgh concert, I miraculously won a local radio station contest and earned a pair of tickets to the show. It was fate, I thought, and my hysteric and flamboyant self was going to meet my idol. During the post-show meet and greet, I was able to get a picture signed and I touched his hand. I refused to wash it for days.

Fast forward a couple of years to my senior year of high school. Adam Lambert was chosen to headline Pittsburgh’s Pride in the Streets, a live concert in the streets of downtown Pittsburgh during Pride that kicks off the week’s celebrations. The show was 18 and up, and even though I was 17, I wouldn’t let that stop me from attending. Chaperoned by my mother, I was able to see the show surrounded by queer people who were just like me. It was one of the most life-changing experiences. I was not out—and am still not fully out—but the environment that evening inched me that much closer to self-acceptance and self-love.

Many years have passed since those fateful nights, but my adoration for Adam Lambert remains. I’ve since moved out of my childhood bedroom covered in Idol posters to my adult apartment (where I still have pictures of him on my wall). Now I am a slightly more confident person in my queer identity and I know that Adam Lambert has transformed from my crush to my mentor.

Just last year, I was lucky enough to go to Cleveland and see Adam Lambert perform as the frontman for Queen. I somehow snagged floor seats and, as I clung to the edge of the stage, that same hand that was able to touch his many, many years ago, reached out once more. We made contact. Time stilled, and I thought how wonderful of a bookmark this moment was.

Even though LGBTQ representation in media is still not where it needs to be, Adam Lambert is one of the only men I’ve ever loved who’s fearlessly chasing equality and visibility, a reality that Freddie Mercury surely would have dreamed of.

#WeStan is an amp original series honoring LGBTQ legends in media because we know that representation matters. Follow along on GLAAD social mediaFacebook, Instagram, Twitterto see who our fans stan!

 Taylor Dolniak is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and recent graduate of Point Park University. Taylor received a B.A. in Cinema Production and plans to work in production in Los Angeles.

the voice and vision of a new generation