A Gay Idol’s Battle With Problematic Perception Of Gayness

It’s 21st century yet homosexuality is a highly debatable topic. Sadly, education system teaches facts and figures but never addresses people to respect and accept those who identify themselves as LGBTIQ. Here, we are addressing the loss of opportunities simply because the person is gay. Since when a word which was supposed to mean “happy” became something which people abhorred? Most importantly, why a blossoming and talented artist like Adam Lambert lost the eighth season of American Idol? Was his talent really overshadowed by his sexual orientation or it happened because Gay did not mean “happy” to people anymore?

Being Gay, Being Happy, Being Homosexual

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Doesn’t gay also mean “happy”? Sadly, most people didn’t think so in earlier times. By the mid-twentieth century, gay was entrenched in reference to decadent and uninhibited ways of life and its antonym straight had now obtained explicit undertones of heterosexuality. The strict gender boundaries made it hard for men who were said to have feminine traits or those who loved men despite retaining their “masculinity”. The notions about homosexuality being something unnatural was prevalent back then which in turn damaged the prospects for many men.

In most countries, where male homosexuality was unlawful and the laws were made to transparently distinguish somebody as gay was viewed as hostile and was often faced court trials. Moreover, none of the words portraying any part of homosexuality were viewed as reasonable for considerate society. Precedents incorporate “energetic” young women and “creative” young men, all with the pressure purposely on the generally totally honest modifier.

At that time, the affiliation helped the narrowing of the term towards its present prevailing significance, which was at first restricted to subcultures. Gay was the favored term since different terms, for example, strange, were felt to be slanderous. Unfortunately, being “gay” or homosexual is still seen as unreasonably clinical, since the sexual introduction presently usually alluded to “homosexuality” was around then a dysfunctional behavior analysis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The problem intensified as the narrowing of term “gay” got blended with bias against the homosexual males (even females).

Here, I must say that I did not like it when I saw the ICD manual referring people with alternative sexualities as having a personality disorder. Since childhood, I was fed with the preconceived notions of sexuality and gender roles. A man was supposed to love a woman and vice versa. With time, as I read and understood more about LGBTQIA community, my mind got opened to the idea of loving the same sex. It didn’t feel wrong anymore. Most of the times, I found myself thinking- “Why loving someone is forbidden especially when they are not harming anyone? Why someone’s talent and aspirations are brushed off simply because they love someone of same sex?”

I had been following Adam Lambert since 2009 but the moment I read that psychology guides still retained homosexuality as a disorder was when I actually started thinking out of the box. Adam’s voice was supreme and made him stand out of the rest and that’s what truly mattered. Just imagine how disrespectful that felt especially when I loved Adam Lambert for his insane talent. Sadly, this thought also reminded me that the society is still not accepting the idea of alternate sexualities. Somehow, Adam’s loss was fresh in my mind and the thought that his gayness (which he was comfortable with but others weren’t) might have contributed to it. But did it matter anymore? Since AI ended, Adam had been thriving despite constant hiccups in his singing career. His happiness (gayness) lied in singing and he merely pursued to be gay (happy). Although he didn’t grab the crown but he still won hearts.

Someone’s Normal Is Others’ Abnormal

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Science vs Homosexuality

Although APA and ICD removed homosexuality as a mental disorder soon after the gay rights started gaining momentum in 20th century, a long road was still ahead to remove the existing bias. Even now, the ICD-10 retains the reference to homosexuality as “ego-dystonic sexual orientation”. It’s evident that emotions, individuality and happiness don’t see eye to eye with science.

The established normality gives edge to some individuals and deprive others of opportunities as they are judged for their sexual orientation. While some break the barriers and prove themselves, others get lost in the oblivion trying to make their mark.

Problematic Terminology Of Gayness

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Once you have read and understood the gist of male homosexuality being linked to a particular word- gay- you will probably get to know that the very idea of judging men for loving men is detrimental. “Gay” meant “happy”; not “men who are having intimate relationships with men”. Regardless, the problematic language and judgments led to many people missing out on the opportunities, including Adam.

Adam Lambert
American Idol Finale, 2009

Adam Lambert, the clear favourite to win the title, lost to more conservative, Kris Allen because the public was divided over his controversial pictures (kissing his former boyfriend). Suddenly, a gay (happy?) and talented man was seen as a threat to the singing competition. It is hard to understand that why his talent, which actually mattered in the competition, failed to surpass people’s notion about homosexuality. While a lot of whispering was being done when the scandalous pictures emerged, Adam, seemingly unbothered by gossip, decided to focus on his singing. It’s practically mistaken to call Lambert secretive since he wasn’t in his private life. He did not add fuel to the fire by addressing the rumors and he didn’t deny them or reduce them. He only had an open discussion with the media after the show finished. The show never appeared to ask him either. American Idol let Lambert sustain on dramatic artistry and ability alone, however in that left behind the chance to change what could have changed the history for LGBTQIA community. He fell prey to societal bias regarding homosexual males. How come loving someone is frowned upon, I fail to understand this. Nothing is wrong or right; it’s all about perceptions.

The Change Is Rolling Out

Oscars 2019 Adam Lambert and Bryan Adams
Adam Lambert and Brian May at Oscars 2019

Adam Lambert’s loss was certainly went down as one of the most shocking moments in the history of American Idol but it did change few things for him. It has been 10 years since that event happened and Adam is still going strong in his career. He has been touring with the most reputed Rock Band, Queen, and has let his talent shine despite the negative comments. What else? Adam got to open the Oscars 2019 with Queen when Kevin Hart stepped down as the host following an uproar over perceived homophobic comments. If dug deeper, this replacement indicated the win of talent over homophobia. Maybe it was not a huge step but it was an indication of change which is coming. Despite not winning in 2009, Adam is emerging as a winner who has paved the way for future Queer artists. Remember, this man brought happy tears in the eyes of Cher, an icon herself. He is gay and happy (happy and happy?) and has not let a word define himself.

2 thoughts on “A Gay Idol’s Battle With Problematic Perception Of Gayness

Add yours

  1. Interesting – thanks! Perhaps you want to correct little things: It was season eight of Idol, not nine. The pic with Kiss is from that season’s final, that was 2009. And Dr. May from Queen is called Brian, not Bryan. Thanks again, especially for recognizing Adam’s immense talent.

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