"I don't think it should be a surprise for anyone to hear that I'm gay... I'm proud of my sexuality. I embrace it. It's just another part of me."
Speculation about the 27 year old's sexuality began with his first appearance on the top rated FOX show. But the eyeliner-wearing, highly stylized Lambert was always evasive, even when photos surfaced of him dressing in drag, and kissing and holding hands with men. He said he did not want to go public while the was competing:
"I was worried that [coming out] would be so sensationalized that it would overshadow what I was there to do, which was sing. I'm an entertainer, and who I am and what I do in my personal life is a separate thing. It shouldn't matter. Except it does. It's really confusing."
But American Idol apparently has a history of going out of its way to avoid controversies involving homosexuality. According to Oscar Dahl of BuddyTV.com:
Jim Verraros, American Idol's first openly gay contestant, competed on the show's first season. On his own FOX website profile for the season, Verraros initially alluded to his sexuality, but FOX quickly forced him to remove anything regarding him being gay from the profile... Verraros has since stated that FOX forced his hand in order to level the playing field, that they didn't want to give him a leg up on the competition... While the idea that American Idol wants to only focus on the singing and has no desire to delve into its contestants' romantic relationships is reasonable enough, Idol's past doesn't back it up. Throughout Idol's history, we've witnessed behind-the-scenes footage of singers' loved ones, girlfriends, boyfriends, divorces, children – basically anything and everything in an Idol's past and present has been fair game. If Adam Lambert had a hot girlfriend, she would have been featured already.
Lambert's announcement comes at a time when the nation seems to be more accepting of homosexuality in general. More celebrities are coming out of the closet, and despite the high profile setback of California's Proposition 8, six states now have laws allowing for gay marriage. Commenting last month before Lambert's confirmation, Corey Scholibo, arts and entertainment editor of The Advocate, said Lambert is part of the national trend:
"We just legalized same-sex marriage in two states in two days. Things are happening. I think he's an example of change ... I think the gay community thinks he's already one of us."
But while Lambert says he is proud to be gay, don't expect him to be the poster boy for gay rights:
"I'm trying to be a singer, not a civil rights leader."
Lambert's actions are in stark contrast to second season Idol runner-up, Clay Aiken. He famously dodged questions about his sexuality for five years, before finally admitting last year to what everybody already suspected.