Adam Lambert changes his story, now says Idol wouldn’t let him talk about being gay

Next Sunday, American Idol 8 runner-up Adam Lambert will be featured on VH1’s Behind the Music. In that special, he will discuss, according to VH1’s blog, “his inability to respond, thanks to the Idol contestant contract, which forbids contestants from giving one-on-one interviews before the competition is over.”

In a clip from the episode, Adam says, “I wasn’t able to talk. Technically, being on Idol, you can’t do any interviews,” he says. “I can’t put in my two cents. It felt out of my control.”

Considering American Idol hasn’t had any openly gay contestants ever (contrast that with The Voice‘s two openly lesbian finalists and other gay contestants), and reports over the years that the show closeted contestants, Adam’s comment is further, damning evidence that the show actively participates in forcing some of its contestants to be who they are not.

The problem is that it’s the exact opposite of what Adam Lambert said before.

Adam came out in a Rolling Stone interview that was published a few weeks after the finale in 2009, and in that piece, he said, “The head of Idol public relations asked me what I wanted to do about it. They were completely supportive of any decision I made. I was worried that [coming out] would be so sensationalized that it would overshadow what I was there to do, which was sing.”

Later, in a 2009 interview with Out, Adam said that he worked with Fox’s publicist to figure out how to react when photos of him kissing men showed up online. In that interview, Adam said,

“And she goes, ‘What do you want to do about it?’ She was really cool. … The publicist from Fox, [Jill Hudson]. She was like, ‘You know, stuff like this has happened before, and this is usually what happens…’ And I was like, ‘Jill, I don’t want to deny it, and I’m not ashamed of it. And I don’t want to seem like I’m ashamed of it. Because that’s not me. That’s just not how I am. But, at the same time I really want this opportunity and I want to stay on the show as long as possible. So, I kinda have to come up with a compromise.’ And she was like, ‘Well, is it a big deal to you?’ And I’m like, ‘No.’ And she’s like, ‘Well, then let’s not make a big deal out of it.’ And that’s what we did. She was like, ‘You know, own it. Tell them who you are, and just move forward.’ And that’s what we did. And I’m glad that I handled it that way, because I think that had I immediately said the words and labeled myself — you know, said ‘I am gay’ — I think that it would’ve been more about that, initially, than anything else. And the fact that we didn’t come out and make a big announcement or anything like that — that doesn’t make any sense to me anyway. It’s not an announcement. It’s just, it’s part of who I am. But because our nation is the way it is, it’s an announcement. And also, there are very few gay celebrities. [Long pause.] It’s really cool, now, looking back, because I think that without saying it, and making that part of my identity, I think I allowed viewers to be more open to me. I think, had I put it out there that I was gay right off the bat, I think that people would’ve closed their minds right away.”

In other words, he made a strategic choice to remain closeted but essentially wink at viewers in order to stay on the show longer. And that’s okay if he made that decision. But it’s very different than Fox prohibiting him from talking.

Here’s the clip from Behind the Music:

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.