Sapphic Salon: The Adam Lambert Double Standard
Last night, Adam Lambert kissed another guy on live television — network television. He also pushed a dancer's face into his crotch, which makes this is his most daring performance ever. Having only come out as gay post-American Idol, he has maintained a fairly straight-acting demeanor until now, including a sexualized photospread co-starring a woman in Details and Out magazine taking him to task for only appearing on the cover of the Out 100 issue if he didn't look "too gay" and a straight woman was also on the cover.
On The View this morning, Elizabeth Hasselbeck predictably said she thought it was over-the-line and was glad ABC censored Adam's performance for West Coast viewers, who weren't able to watch the late night performance live. Barbara Walters said she was disappointment in the network for making the decision, but recanted after she heard about the face-in-the-crotch.
Understandably, Adam Lambert is upset that he was censored in the later broadcast. Today he told Rolling Stone:
Female performers have been doing this for years — pushing the envelope about sexuality — and the minute a man does it, everybody freaks out. We’re in 2009; it’s time to take risks, be a little more brave, time to open people’s eyes and if it offends them, then maybe I’m not for them.
Of course, he is right. Exhibit A:
Going back to The View, Joy Behar noted: "Everybody loves a lesbian kiss."
It all goes back to titillation: Two straight women kissing is acceptable. Two men kissing (straight or gay) is revolting, or worth complaining about. (ABC claims to have received 1500 complaints about Adam's performance so far.) Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera's threeway kiss was front page news the next day, but referred to as hot and surprising, rather than infuriating and disgusting. And yet, none of the three women have come forward to say they identify as anything other than straight. Their kiss was purely for "our" entertainment. (I use "our" loosely.)
So what does this Adam Lambert hoopla mean for gay women? It means that if Lady Gaga, an out bisexual, made out with a woman as part of her performance, it would be seen as great showmanship. If Melissa Etheridge had made out with a woman on stage, it would have likely been closer to the post-Adam reaction. It's just too real for America. Isn't that sad?
But will that deter female performers from embracing one another in the name of entertainment? Probably not. Will it stop Adam Lambert and other gay musicians? I hope not. It's ironic that one of the first things most straight people think about, when they find out someone is gay, is about how it works in the bedroom. These are the same people who ask that we not "flaunt our lifestyle," aka show affection or attraction to one another in their presence.
People are sexual. Music is sexual. It's natural that there will be an intersection, and to leave anyone queer or otherwise out of the club is asking a lot. Too much, in fact. And since I believe in equality, I'll support Madonna kissing anyone she wants, as long as she remains the fierce LGBT advocate she's always been.
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