OUTrage – Welcome to the 21st Century Mr. Hicklin
Note: In early October, to coincide with OUT Magazine’s “OUT 100 Honor Roll” issue, Adam Lambert sat down for what appears to be a most generous, genuine interview and took the opportunity to put more than a couple of issues to rest. Unfortunately, it seems that the interviewer and Editor-at-large Mr. Aaron Hicklin question the efficacy of Mr. Lambert’s answers and intimate possible coercion by a third party.
The issue has a ‘school’ theme – it suits the Principal, Mr. Hardhand Hicklin who has taken out the whip to scold – too bad it doesn’t hurt. One day Adam Lambert receives an award from OUT magazine for being a successful entertainer who is gay, then the honor is all but repealed with an ill-conceived attempt to “out” the company helping Adam achieve that success.
Q. But that fear, that there’s a queer double standard — it’s not always wrong. (this isn’t a question, it’s a statement and refers to his timing with respect to confirming what everyone already knew – he’s gay)
A. “It’s a hard thing that everybody’s gonna have their opinion about. You know? Some people in the gay community might look at it like, “You really should’ve owned that. You didn’t hide it, but you didn’t admit it and that’s weak.” My whole point is, I’m not trying to lead the fucking way for the civil rights movement that we’re in right now. I just happen to be a gay man — and I’m not ashamed of that at all. Regardless of how I handled it, it became a huge issue. And I knew it would. So I figured, you know what, I’m just not going to label myself, I’m going to own the pictures, I’m going to get past it and just keep being myself on the show. And then I waited until after because I was finally given the opportunity. I mean, on the show, we’re not really [allowed to talk to press].”
Q. You’ve said it was your choice how to handle that. Even the most savvy gay people I know are dubious about you having that much control. How did it happen? Did you get called into a meeting?
A. “Literally, the minute the pictures came out, the publicist for the show called me up and was like, “So? Did you hear about these pictures?” And I was like, “Yeah.” And she goes, “What do you want to do about it?” She was really cool.”
Q. But wouldn’t you say that it was a minority of people who were actually surprised that you were gay?
A. “Yeah, I would hope. If somehow this can open people’s minds or whatever, then great. I’m not sitting here thinking about ways to open people’s minds. That’s the thing people have to understand.
Q. Don’t you want to open people’s minds with your art? You’ve struck me as being an artist who has a point of view.
A. “I do have a point of view. I may have something to say now and again. I just want people to enjoy the song and have a good time. That’s what music is about for me. It’s not so political for me. I may be the subject of something that’s so political, being that we’re in a weird time right now. And if I can indirectly open people’s minds up and get them to kind of change their views a little bit, then I’m really thrilled with that. But that’s not my mission. That’s not why I’m doing this.”
Q. But you have plenty of gay fans.
A. “I’ve met like, three. That’s the thing that’s so funny to me — I don’t have a good idea of who’s into me, because the only people I’ve seen are like, women.”
Those were Adam’s own words. The interviewer did a wonderful job for the most part, and she got a great story – So who could have a problem with this?? Adam gets some nice recognition, OUT got photos and a major interview.
That’s it for the good news, now the bad.
Isn’t that interesting, and tasting a little sour methinks – Mr. Hicklin is a very attractive man, hope he’s not insulted by a compliment from a woman. Way, way back in the Old Testament of [our postings on wowOwow], we talked about the gay media’s reaction to Adam and frankly, so many were unfriendly to him and I was really disappointed, but found this very revealing. Adam refused to play by the rules they demanded, to wear the rainbow ribbon all the time, everywhere so everyone can point and say “there’s the ‘gay’ idol”. Rather insensitive, given that Adam is Jewish – and he can sing – remember?
This was in spite of the fact that most of the Idol audience, and everyone on the show, had figured it out early on – “Cher”? “Queen”? “Paula Abdul?” “Not good enough – wear the rainbow star, or we will????” what? And for those who didn’t get it, it didn’t matter.
Are you challenging the efficacy of Adam’s words? If he says he and the publicist were “cool” and in agreement on how to handle the leaked photos – don’t you believe him? You aren’t calling Adam’s integrity into question are you?
Battle Strategy – designed by Sun Tzu or Sun Yung Moon?
For the editor of the magazine that has Adam on its current cover, and a long, extremely candid and heart-rending interview inside, to berate Adam and his management and reveal backroom exchanges is not very nice, polite or kosher. Funny time for the editorial to appear – after OUT got Adam inked. I don’t know if this editor is pursuing a “scorched earth” strategy so Adam’s management blocks his emails, phone calls and instead of getting Adam, he gets to talk about how the narrow-minded, out-of-date management has blocked his access. Do people still fall for that old trick?
Is this a “wag the dog” scenario? Create a crisis and then show up for the heroic rescue? We know wars and controversy sell, blood over bouquets, so those who decide, often choose the mean and nasty story, instead of the one with a happy ending – the one where the editor says;
“Adam is such a great entertainer and we’re thrilled for his success – choosing his own, unique path to reach his goals, shrugging-off convention and taking risks, speaking frankly and openly about his sexuality. We look forward to more opportunities to speak with Adam about life and art, as his career moves forward. He’s a credit to his parents, his teachers and his Jewish heritage.”
Really, this can’t be part of a marketing plan to sell more magazines – so what else might be going on?
I stated earlier that I was going to buy this magazine; now I will not. This “Dear John” letter is rude and un-called for, and all we have is Mr. Hicklin’s version – not a single other person has said what Hicklin has, about Adam’s management, unless it was published in New Zealand, where they suffer a dearth of anything Adam.
Further, Mr. Hicklin was not privy to any other conversations Adam or Adam’s management have had, with each other, or anyone else. The editor tries to avoid landing any blows on Adam, but he does anyway – he has questioned Adam’s judgment – first, for Adam to continue with this record/management company and then, by agreeing to a campaign with which Mr. Hicklin disagrees.
“Excuse me Adam, and I really don’t want to hurt you, but because I love you like a son – you’re gettin’ a whuppin’”
Oops Mr. Hicklin, we all deserve a bit of painful, coercive punishment from time to time – this is not that time and the punishment should fit the crime – Adam’s crime being….oh, hmmm, gee – focused on his career goals, while maintaining some semblance of a personal life?
Again, Mr. Hicklin seems to have missed each opportunity Adam has taken, to say he has always had creative control – even on the AI show. Adam is a risk-taker, and he wants to be known for his abilities, not just his sexuality, he doesn’t care for controversy and avoids it. He’s a fire-starter and fire-fighter, but of the heart and soul and it is unlikely anyone could force Adam to kiss a woman’s thigh. Mr. Hicklin would force him to not kiss a woman, thigh or no thigh – “it’s a sell-out”. That would be the old Master Plan, but I have news for you, Mr. Hicklin – there’s a new one for the 21st century.
Mr. Hicklin does not reveal what he actually wanted Adam to do, that was censored by Adam’s people – no wait here’s a hint – sorry, too prurient for this page. What sort of interview did OUT expect to have with Adam during Idol? All he says is that they made “cover offers”. But it is entirely the purview of the entertainer and his management, to determine their media strategy and they don’t have to tell Mr. Hicklin what it is.
It’s about the Music first, not the Sex
You may recall that Adam did no major media stories or magazine covers (the Entertainment Weekly cover story was based on pre-existing photographs and quotes), and he picked Rolling Stone, probably because it’s the rock music bible. You might remember Mr. H., he can sing and that’s how he wants to be branded – a singer, an entertainer — and the smartest choice is to show up first in a publication that is all about entertainment. This strategy is completely consistent with the image Adam has chosen for himself. And he chose Rolling Stone to publish his personal story about his sexuality – reaching a far bigger and far broader audience, and the one that counts for his career as an entertainer.
Wait a minute, there must be a Jewish publication somewhere, whose cover Adam has not graced – where is the outrage?! Why isn’t he talking about being the latest, greatest Jewish rock star? And next to the rainbow ribbon, should he not wear a Star of David? His community needs him to be successful so they can be proud too. Good heavens. What’s next? The Association of Wearers of Fingerless Gloves?
I feel very let down by Mr. Hicklin, who seems not to care as much as he proclaims about the object of his obsession for a hot photo, his cover-boy. Is he being deliberately obtuse by ignoring Adam’s statements that cover- boy does not want to be theirs, or anyone else’s standard-bearer? Mr. Hicklin – - chill, he’s just a singer as you noted. And an insult to Adam’s management people insults him too.
Old News – What’s New?
Mr. Hicklin’s revelations about his publication’s conversations with Adam’s management might have been news earlier, when it happened, and before they got Adam and the interview. Sorry, but publishing this editorial about someone on the cover, and whose interview appears within the same issue of the magazine, totally wipes out any news worthiness of the editorial and it’s like complaining that you got the second piece of cake, even though you asked first. And you have ordered birthday boy to wear a goofy hat, after you ate the piece of cake his mother lovingly baked and iced for him and you and you bit her hand doing it.
Adam wanted to sing on Idol. He said then, and has just said it again – “I don’t want to be the standard bearer” and who can blame him for restating the obvious – yet, Mr. Hicklin has declared him so! “You’re a pioneer, an out gay pop idol at the start of his career. Someone has to be first, and we’re all counting on you not to mess this up.” No pressure man.
By what proposed criteria will Adam be judged? We need measurable outcomes Mr. Hicklin, so we can all keep a public scorecard. Have you even agreed on a Mission Statement? Who are the parties to this agreement? Please advise the date, time and location of the stakeholders’ meeting and we will either personally attend, or deliver our proxies. I am confident that I can gather ten billion. Are there any other of the 100 Honorees involved in the project?
Does this man not understand the meaning of “no, no thank you, nyet, ne, non”? This might have been more effective if Freddie Mercury didn’t get a Command Performance or Elton John had not become Sir Elton and neither sold any albums and couldn’t get a gig outside of Podunk, Iowa. Again – this is a new age – an age of respect and appreciation for uniqueness, for chutzpa. Can we please permit Adam to mess up without having to worry that if he does, he will somehow be letting down every gay person on the planet?
Adam chose to go his own way. He didn’t hide his sexuality – Drake was in the audience! For the most part, it seemed that it was a few activist gay media representatives who were demanding Adam declare himself publicly while competing. Seems they wanted their cover boy right from the beginning, to which Mr. Hicklin has now confessed, but he didn’t play their way and they became rude and sometimes even offensive about it. More mainstream media either didn’t care, or didn’t think it was newsworthy or important to their readership.
Boy, have we come a long way, Glambertinae and Glambertinum! No one in the “Idol Nation”, with the single exception of about five members of a rogue Christian church, gave a f**k about Adam’s sexuality, and they still don’t, and wasn’t that a shock to so many?! And how great is this? His sexuality does not matter anymore to most people, but it still matters to Mr. Hicklin. For those who are still hung-up – you don’t know what you are missing!
I love that Adam takes on heterosexual male fantasies and makes them work! Did we hear from any hetero men that they were offended by a gay singer making out with a skinny, skimpy female model? Where’s the outrage! Our husbands should have been picketing the offices of Details — writing letters, tweeting, tweeking, twittering, face booking, emailing, blogging and calling radio shows – about the effrontery of a gay man usurping their primacy as “hunk”, “stud muffin”, “cutie-pie”, “sweet cheeks”, “hotty”, “hotty magnum” or King of Kink. Secretly, I think they found him attractive and sexy, but you won’t catch any of them admitting so. Wow, wouldn’t that get Adam into trouble with Mr. Hicklin. Popular with straight guys!! OUTrage!
What did women think you ask? We completely ignored the mannequin and enjoyed the impish twinkle in Adam’s topaz blue eye, with that eyebrow that has its own dictionary of meanings – we all enjoyed the joke together! Too much information? He was fully clothed.
Precedent – I was There Then
This situation reminds me very much of the evolutionary process of “women’s liberation” which turned into the “feminist” movement. At first, the canon was “women are equal to men in ability, but don’t have the same opportunities, so any social, legal, civil and physical barriers, to women living up to their potential academically, politically, professionally, personally must be removed and everyone will benefit, especially women, who can choose to do anything they want.” I read the books – Sign me up! And at fifteen, I started calling myself a feminist.
Then came the furies, the judgmental, rules-makers of feminist thought, theory and philosophy, hectoring and bullying other women!!! Apparently housework and childrearing were not “work” and women had to leave their home and earn a living — after all, isn’t that what we fought for? And we won’t talk about the furies’ dress code – sackcloth. That is not what I signed up for. I just wanted to be treated as an unlabeled individual and I wanted a good job where I was treated fairly, could get married and have a family, and when I did, I could decide who would raise the children. “Well, sorry, it’s not about that anymore.” Guess I missed the convention when that policy resolution flew by and choices were removed. Warning to those who follow – do not agree to limitations of any sort.
Getting mad at Adam for not appearing early and first on OUT’s cover would be like Ms. Magazine getting angry with Condoleezza Rice, for not gracing the cover of their magazine first, since without Ms. raising the consciousness of Americans, she could not have achieved the powerful position to which she was appointed. I don’t recall which magazine got the first Rice cover, but it could have been Time – isn’t that what we’ve been working toward all these decades? Pay attention Mr. H.: the cover of Rolling Stone – now there’s something in which you should take pride, if indeed that is how you want to feel about Adam. Peevishness is not sexy.
Get Over it
Here’s a really scary thought for Mr. Hicklin: Adam’s way is working, and Hicklin’s looks dated. Adam is the best double agent anybody could have, moving comfortably among different groups within society. Surely his mother’s New Jersey relatives and friends fell in love with him, perhaps a little chagrined at his unavailability for their daughter (but holding out hope for their gay sons?), but they’ll take a photo and kiss anyway. And so polite, he tried the tongue sandwich. Leaving them, he has dinner with his family then joins friends at a club – gay, straight, whatever.
And if the rest of this editorial is true, then this statement is a lie “We just hope it’s a path that’s honest and true and that you choose to surround yourself with people who celebrate your individuality”. This is precisely what Mr. Hicklin didn’t want before, and doesn’t want now. Wait – who is “We”? Is it the royal “we”, the formal as in “nous”, meaning just you Mr. Hicklin, or do you represent a larger group, who want their “gay idol” playing by their rules, speaking their language, talking first to them, posing for them and not selling out to – what – being himself?
Adam has been “out” in L.A. and the world, entertaining, trying to get started in the music business, taking any kind of work to pay the rent – he really could have used a mention in OUT during the seven or eight years or more it took him to “arrive”. Perhaps they could discover Cassidy – nope, Cassidy says he’s bi and might want to kiss a girl, so he’s out. Maybe Cheeks – or is he what? Too gay? Too smart? He quotes Classic Latin Poetry. Maybe highlight Drake’s paintings? They are gorgeous, elegant, dramatic and deserve to be recognized.
People, Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Judging from the ferocity of responses I am reassured that l’affaire Hicklin is a tempest in a Limoges teapot, and not the tip of a prismatic glacier, bouncing in the cold Arctic Sea.
- It’s tough when 10 billion Glambert fans hate you. from web – Aaron Hicklin Twitter
I believe Mr. Hicklin likes to view his publication as an advocate and activist, but this editorial does not appear to move whatever agenda he has forward. Why has he erected an adversarial – “them or us” — straw man? Come on, this does not fit the new social construct. If Adam chooses to party with his mother’s friends or pose in a “straight” magazine, you don’t block the door to him or his friends at your club. It does not diminish his value to you one single Canadian penny.
Could Have Been Relevant
Adam’s fans of every colour, size, shape and sign buy everything in which he appears, and what an opportunity for OUT to reach a massive audience who probably haven’t heard of OUT, getting it mail ordered into small towns and remote places. Maybe someone has a son or daughter who is struggling with their sexuality, the school’s not helpful, and the parents do not have the knowledge or resources to help ease their child’s pain through the process of self-discovery. Adam’s story and perhaps some other information would help. GBLTQ activism can’t be limited to gaining well-deserved civil and legal recognition. Easing the younger generation’s way, within themselves, their family and their neighbourhood, must be a priority.
Adam himself has, just by behaving instinctively and celebrating his individuality, accomplished a great deal in this aspect of social challenge – reaching out to the “weird” kids. He has moved great swaths of humanity out of the comfortable old chair of their dated values, concepts, and beliefs, to stand atop the coffee table, to shake their booties, sprinkle glitter, to cheer him on, his sexiness, his sex appeal celebrated – his sexuality irrelevant. What Mr. Hicklin, no credit to Adam for finding a new way?
Revenge of the Weird Kids – We’re all Weird Now
Once people fell in love with the man, it wasn’t hard to transfer that personal connection to “wow, I had no idea” and to want Adam to have everything he deserves, needs or wants. Michael Sarver talked about Adam as someone he looked to for leadership and advice. On tour, Adam sailed throughout the continent, relatively unscathed. Has anyone in the mainstream media (aside from Bill O’Reilly who’s been sent for re-education to a rice paddy in China) spoken critically of Adam? Was he not treated equally as well as Kris Allen in the post-Idol media frenzy?
Now, that wasn’t so painful, was it Mr. H? Are you resentful that this all seems to come so easily for Adam, but the protégé Grasshopper has not sufficiently genuflected in gratitude before Master Po? O.K. – I’ll say it for him if it matters that much. Thanks.
Adam should be celebrated for this in OUT, not admonished for refusing to carry a flag, or criticized for what he hasn’t done, and if he did do it, it was wrong, it was impolitic, the wrong place, the wrong time, wrong people.
From this editorial, I can even more fully understand Adam’s reluctance to embrace your rhinestone tiara of “Gay Idol”. If he’s not gay enough, will his gay fans not buy his music? Is this even about his music, his talent, his value as an entertainer? No, it’s about his self-identity and it appears he broke some rules, probably deliberately, and poked a grump with a stick.
Can we kiss and make-up?
Sorry, it’s just an expression – no kissing, just a handshake will do, and the real explanation and motive for your editorial Mr. Hicklin. I know what it’s like to get all fired up about something and then pull the trigger on the letter to the editor, without sleeping on it. Thanks for the provocation to write about my concerns – I took my time.
Disclaimer – I am not now and never have been an employee, relative of an employee, friend or enemy of anyone who has even set foot inside 19 Entertainment or any of its partners, affiliates, caterers or plant waterers. As anyone who knows me is painfully aware, I have never met Adam Lambert – in person, in space, on twitter, face book, at the barricades, in a bar, in a dark corner, facing each other on …… you don’t need to know that part. We are such strangers, that he doesn’t even know that we have not met.
By xena princess warrior on 11/16/2009 7:27 pm
OUTrage – the interviewer strikes back! Seems the Principal is hiding under his desk and is unable to respond in person, to the endless barrage of criticism from Adam’s Army, with only words for weapons. He has sent a woman in his place, with orders.
When cornered, the defensive journalist will strike back – not at their precious interviewee, but the person just ahead or behind. We have yet to hear from anyone within Adam’s team and the “do-nothing” tactic works best here. The best OUT can hope for at this point is that we all shut up and go away – this second-front attack on Adam’s team has only put them further back as we march forward and take the ground.
A few scenarios to consider:
1. Because OUT has so generously awarded Adam a prize in their OUT 100 Honors, he diplomatically agreed to an interview and photos. This is a classic Trojan Horse tactic – the gift from the Greeks to the Trojans, so that they would open their barricades and the Greek soldiers hidden within the horse could leap out and massacre the Trojans. Sound familiar? Was this just a trick to lure Adam for a photo and interview, then jump out of the horse brandishing………your OUTrage?
2. Adam has had some problems with this magazine – they drove his people crazy during Idol with their constantly rebuffed offers to have Adam as cover-boy – an inappropriate sense of entitlement on OUT’s part and entitlement is not sexy – Grasshopper knows that.
3. Adam is quite sure that their intent is to exploit his sexuality for their political purposes – pretty easy conclusion, given all the demand for Adam to “out” himself over something that was never “in”.
4. Adam is adamant that he does not want to talk about Gay politics or about being a “leader” or “spokesmodel” or anything for gay causes, but is suspicious that he will be asked to comment on something he does not want to talk about. Again, of what are they accusing him? “Doesn’t know what’s best for him” “We really know what he should be doing, he can’t be trusted” “Look how they’re dressing him – ew and yuck and who does his hair?”
5. The rule is – the client never, ever makes direct requests, demands or asks for coffee or cupcakes – iced with Smarties on top – his representative does that. When the rep speaks, the interviewer – who should know something about this by now, should assume that it’s the client himself asking. How disrespectful to publicly question if Adam “knows what your people are saying”.
Did Adam’s rep say – “hey buddy, keep this to yourself, we don’t want to rile the kid, now do we? He gets all sensitive about this and starts scraping off the nail polish and we need to keep the manicure – no time to fix it before tonight’s gala opening of a Studs-R-Us store …yeah studs, you know, those metal things on all his clothes – they’re giving him a prize – Studs-R-Us Man of the Year, for Public Promotion and Education on the proper and safe use of studs with…or…and.. spikes – whatever.”
6. This is the most poorly organized strategy I have seen in a while – OUT just keeps digging their hole deeper and deeper. It is unlikely there will be a word from Adam’s management, it would only give credence to a pathetic attempt to, uh, to hmmm, what?!!! I don’t get the goal of OUT’s campaign against Adam at this point. If it’s not a campaign to gain something – what is the point! To get Adam to fire his management – now really, does that sound likely?
7. He gave OUT the most genuine, open, heart-rending interview ever, and they throw pencils at him. Could it have been something he said? Probably. Go read the interview – he gave them plenty to talk about.
Do not believe the protestations of “it’s not about Adam, it’s about his management” – he did not give OUT the interview they wanted, in fact – he gave the interview they did not want. The one where he is so straight edged on truth; he won’t relieve their discomfort at failing to claim him as the Gay Idol, the Gay Adam, the Gay Drum Major. They have been deaf to his words for months – gotta love him even more for this – it’s genuine genius. He has not complained that his sexuality has prevented him from achieving this year’s goals – why don’t you believe him?
“But you have plenty of gay fans. I’ve met like, three. That’s the thing that’s so funny to me — I don’t have a good idea of who’s into me, because the only people I’ve seen are like, women.”
By xena princess warrior on 11/17/2009 11:22 am
Version of these postings appeared on wowowow.com
Xena is a writer, policy analyst, commentator who has an opinion on everything, and co-author with “Juneau” of the forthcoming book, On the Meaning of Adam Lambert – order at www.adamlambertbook.com