Monday, November 23, 2009
My co-worker described to me Lambert's performance at last night's AMA (which I had not seen because...well, I am miserably uninformed I guess), mentioning his nails, make-up, and hair. And, most importantly, that he kissed a man on stage. My immediate and unquenchable response was "OMG, and I missed it??"
Now, I must interject a moment with a little personal info on myself: I identify as a straight woman. That being said, I still find it extremely attractive when two men kiss (hell, if straight men find two women kissing hot, why can't I with the opposite?). And I'm not shy about it. In fact, I often blurt this out at any remote mention of homosexuality. In a way I suppose I'm trying to help fight the heteronormative notions of sexuality, especially those concerning how the public views celebrities. I mean, it's pretty damn shitty that straight people can be affectionate in public, but we expect homosexual people to keep it out of our sight. How the hell is that fair? But at the same time I recognize that I'm objectifying gay men in a way that straight men have objectified lesbians into a straight male fantasy.
At any rate, my co-worker reacted in much the same way as most people do when I divulge this bit of information (to date, the only exceptions I have known were the awesome friends I made in college--you all know who you are), and she said "You like that?" She then went on "I don't mind that he's gay, but I don't need to see all that."
This is nothing new. Straight people who purportedly have nothing against homosexuality--provided that they don't have to look at them being gay and whatnot--have been saying just that, and similar "I don't hate gay people but..." followed by "I don't want to have to look at it / they better not hit on me / etc." and other similar bigotries. And I do think that they think they're not homophobic--heck, some of them love out and proud celebrities. But I also think that the lack of self-examination regarding their own discomfort when confronted with homosexual people (specifically gay men) being unabashedly sexual with the people they're attracted to is quite evident of a heteronormative culture. Yet rather than question this discomfort, we're more content to pressure homosexual men and women into not being "too gay" so us straights don't feel all icky. Or something.
My co-worker also mentioned Adam Lambert's album cover, and his make-up, saying that she wished "he'd tone it down." She said that it seems like after American Idol, he's just gotten more gay (I know I know--she's pretty damn ignorant, but she's willing to listen to my lectures, and she just inspired a post for me. And what she's saying is not exclusive to just her, but our culture as well). Which sort of ignores the fact that straight men have been wearing make-up long before Adam came to gay it up (ugh, I am so sorry I just had to type that), and also is presumptuous given that there are plenty of gay men that don't wear make-up.
I pointed out to her that Adam was pressured to keep his sexuality hushed while he was still a contestant on AI, and it's only now that his season (yes, his, damn it!) is over is he able to be the performer he wants to be. And I find it pretty damn offensive that in the year 2009 we applaud a gay man for having such immense talent, and applaud straight male performers for objectifying women on stage, or being highly sexual with women on stage as if they're nothing more than props, but when we see the same gay man being sexual with anything but the prescripted woman, the homophobia comes out.
So, fellow straight people: you can't say you support gay rights, or gay people in general, or that you don't hate gay people, and simultaneously cite your own disgust as reason for them to not engage in sexual behavior befitting the sexuality in which they identify. Get the fuck over it.
No one loses their damn mind as we're constantly bombarded with images of straight sexuality. Open any magazine and you see ads, articles, an array of images that reinforce a heterosexual norm. Heterosexual relationships are constantly viewed as standard, and anything else is deviant. If we were to view Adam's very same performance and replace all male dancers with women, these people wouldn't even be complaining.
But I suppose there's something that straight people find threatening in Adam that they've not had to face before: not only is Adam Lambert gay, but his lyrics lack the ambiguity straight people might feel safer listening to. We know the "you" in his songs is not a woman. And any "body" that Adam sings about desiring isn't going to be that of a woman. Hell, "Fever" begins "There he goes, My baby walks so slow," giving a definitive gender to his sung love-interests. And as his album gets more attention, it will only be a matter of time before we start hearing the homophobic panic about a gay man openly singing about loving other gay men (omg, the horror!).
Adam Lambert is in a sudden, strange position right now. It really just sucks that in order for him to be himself, he's going to be criticized by uncomfortable straight people. And he's going to be blasted by critical gay men, too. Oh, wait, he already is. But gay or straight, I think it's pretty shitty that anyone is asking Adam Lambert to compromise himself so the rest of us can be comfortable with him.
But maybe if he makes them all uncomfortable enough, some of them will start to question why that is.