Alex Blaze

Who is better for the movement: Adam Lambert or Will Truman?

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 25, 2009 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality
Tags: Adam Lambert, AMA, American Music Awards, gay marriage, Jennifer Vanasco, LGBT, marriage, movement, offended, rights, sex

I lambert.jpgposted the other day that Adam Lambert's performance was actually kind of boring, nothing new, not really shocking. Of course, I'm not a Real American. Not only that, I'm constantly being crushed under my own massive ennui. So it turns out that some people were pissed at his performance.

ABC's Good Morning America decided to cancel his performance on their show. No word yet on any attempts by ABC to block out sexual straight performers like Britney Spears or the sexually racist Gwen Stefani. This move follows 1500 complaints that people wrote in to complain.

Every time I think that we can't be any more bland, something like this happens to remind me that we're still fringe, that we do still pisses people off, and, if fully-clothed gay sexuality aired at 11pm can still get people to write enough angry letters about the childrenz to shut down a concert, then Americans still have a deep problem with homosexual sex.

It's enough of a problem that 365gay.com's editor says that performance set back the movement:

Whereas just over a year ago it seemed like gay marriage was an inevitable wave sweeping the country - and a tsunami in New England, New Jersey and New York - now it feels like the tide has turned. The hate crimes bill victory was followed by a vicious hate crime in Puerto Rico. We have hearings on ENDA, which could go either way. We have Don't Ask, Don't Tell hearings which are being put off until 2010. We have a President who isn't sure he is our friend.

And what is the mainstream most worried about, Adam Lambert? Why are they afraid of our partnerships, our service to our country, our working lives, our families? They are worried because they think gay life is exactly what you portrayed on the American Music Awards: focused on the kind of sex that turns people into animals (almost literally, in this case, with crawling dancers leading you on leashes), geared toward enticing children (ABC is a network owned by Disney, for heaven's sake), degrading, rapacious, empty.

This is why mainstream America votes against gays, Adam Lambert. Not because of people who have families and jobs and bills and weddings. Because of people like you, who use sexuality thoughtlessly in order to advance your own agenda, instead of thinking about the very real consequences your actions will have on others' civil rights.

You see, Adam Lambert's performance travelled back in time and made people in 2008 in California and a few weeks ago in Maine so scared of gay sex that they voted against us. It was that shocking.

It seems like a given to me that before any sort of visibility of gay and lesbian people happened, way back in the day, people had a problem with gay male sex. Mainly because of their own anxiety around sodomy and subconscious belief that sodomy was death, but also because we transgressed rigid gender lines and because it's obvious we have sex for pleasure, not procreation.

And just like there are prominent people in the community who think that the gender transgressors among us are setting us back, that the reason we haven't gotten our wish list through Congress yet is because of the femmy boys on TV poorly representing gay America, there are folks like Vanasco who think that, since one of the biggest problems people have with gay people is gay sex, we should force gay sex back into the closet.

The truth is, we don't know why our efforts are stalling even though most of what we want is already pretty popular with Americans and the Democrats control both houses and the presidency. So some people have created all sorts of myths about why we haven't already won, including the femmy boys, black people, transgender people, working at the state-level, letting demands for specific legislation "water down" our message, and an actual laundry list of hobgoblins constructed because we just don't know what we're doing wrong.

People do have a problem with gay sex, I'll agree. But forcing it back in the closet hasn't solved anything. We saw marriage amendment after marriage amendment pass while the sex-less Will Truman was the best-known gay man in fly-over country. The no-sex gay best friend to a trendy straight girl was a cliché long before Prop 8 passed. Our strategy has generally been to avoid the entire topic of sex and hope that people believed in equality, justice, yada yada yada.

But, whether we discuss it or not, whether we show it or not, and whether we glamorize it at the AMA's or not, people are thinking about gay sex when they vote. One would think we'd eventually address that.


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Is Alex Blaze suggesting that what we see and hear on TV is more important than what ordinary people do to win civil rights? The homophobic bigots make an issue out of a performance and the movement-hating bloggers react on cue, once again distracting people from what's actually important. I'm not omniscient, but I do know that the postponing of a vote on ENDA had nothing to do with Adam Lambert. Why are the blogoqueens so infatuated with pop culture and so antagonistic to real change and real changers? Turn your computer and your TV off, kid, and be relevant.

Is Alex Blaze suggesting that what we see and hear on TV is more important than what ordinary people do to win civil rights?

No.

The homophobic bigots make an issue out of a performance and the movement-hating bloggers react on cue, once again distracting people from what's actually important.

Are you talking about me or Vanasco? Because I don't think that sentiment applies to either of us.

I'm not omniscient, but I do know that the postponing of a vote on ENDA had nothing to do with Adam Lambert.

Wow. That's some insight.

Why are the blogoqueens so infatuated with pop culture and so antagonistic to real change and real changers?

Because they aren't?

Jeez, post about pop culture half a dozen times in the past year or so and people get pissed.

Turn your computer

I assume you're commenting by shouting really loudly into a phone line, then.

and your TV off

Already done. Haven't watched much in the last 8 years.

kid

Ah! Now we know where you're coming from.

and be relevant.

Oh noes! Harry Hay came back from the grave just to call me irrelevant!

LOLing on my ass, peeing a little!

I'll happily argue that pop culture is tremendously important to the way we all see the world. What fascinates me is how hard we fight to convince ourselves that what we see on tv doesn't really affect our choices, our politics, our identities, when all the psychological and neurological evidence shows that it does, that we're nowhere near the highly rational being we want to be, that decisions are made unconsciously before we're even aware they need to be made. Indeed, it seems that the major function of our rational brains is to justify the decisions we've already made in our irrational unconscious minds. [There's a great 45-minute discussion of this produced by BBC Radio 4 and archived here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime_20081113.shtml]

Of course, the culture we experience differs according to region, culture, language, class, education, etc. But perhaps we could work on recognising that we're not wholly rational beings making wholly logical choices, and thereby gain greater insight into how we react to and engage with our environments - it'd give us more of an edge in how we change the environments we're immersed in.

Well, I guess it is useful to know where Jennifer Vanasco draws the line in terms of what is good for "the movement."
I sorta wish other prominent LGBT voices would state where they stand, so it's easier for those of us who are on the other side of the lines that they draw to know.
I don't want to stoke any fires of infighting, but if Adam Lambert is bad for the movement, then what are the goals of the movement?
I thought that at least part of the goal was to be able to live our lives openly, unashamed of our sexuality, and to be treated as individuals. That's what _I_ want.

Adam Lambert and Will Truman are both bad for the movement in precisely the same ways. Differences between the two are illusory.

They both are corporate-controlled entities that orient the population towards consumption rather than action.

They both orient us towards bogus culture-war politics rather than actual engagement with power. Remember the week when no one would shut up about Britney being on Will & Grace and the resulting controversy--meanwhile no one was lifting a finger to get the safe schools bill passed?


bingo. Its hard to label someone a gay rights hero- when the whole thing reeks of a publicity stunt.

"You see, Adam Lambert's performance travelled back in time and made people in 2008 in California and a few weeks ago in Maine so scared of gay sex that they voted against us. It was that shocking."

OMG, gay sex is just like the Higgs boson!

Wouldn't the mere fact that we have an OUT popstar with a potential #2 or #3 album in the nation be a big enough deal for "the movement"? To also have said popstar being "gay" at an awards show is simply... AMAZING. Growing up, I never thought I would see something/someone out and proud in the mainstream let alone at an ABC branded awards show. He is doing NOTHING to harm the movement. The fact that we can't unite as "one" to battle the bigots and demand our rights is the main issue. We're too fractured and/or too polite to really "freak the fuck out" as we should. Sad.

Poor Adam can't win for losing. When he was on American Idol, we were all screaming about what cowardly gay he was for not coming out. Now he roams the streets hand-in-hand with boy-of-the-week, and does something completely in line with award shows going back years (Madonna! Manson! Lil' Kim!), and we're telling him he's setting back the movement.

Bullshit.

Yes, Lambert and Truman are hollowed-out sock-puppets stereotypes, but having been on the streets of WeHo for a year now trying to get people to actually DO something, I can tell you that most of the queens out here aren't much different.

So if Lambert gets people in the real world to stand up and talk about the fact that two men kissing on television is shockingly normal, just like all the past absurdities at award shows, then it's just another short step on a long road to equality.

Ah, the good ol' "If we hide everything that isn't 'straight' about us, maybe the bigots will like us" idea.
Vanasco needs to think a little. I haven't watched Lambert's performance, and frankly it's irrelevant. He could have simulated full on sex for all I care and I still wouldn't say it "sets us back" in any true way. What's more is that even if it DID, it'd be for the better. If every hetero pop star FEMALE can get away with it, why shouldn't everyone else?
If we want to be accepted for who we are, then we can't hide who we are. We can't act like something else while asking to be accepted for the very things we "Don't want the public to see". It doesn't work like that. If something is invisible, it can't be fought for. Even if this performance does, on some level, set us back it'll simply make us stronger in the end.
To quote the mantra of my adviser: Visibility matters.

Matthew wrote: "If every hetero pop star FEMALE can get away with it, why shouldn't everyone else?" Actually every lesbian pop star can get away with it also.

This is not a gay issue. It is a MALE issue. Men in the USA have less rights than women in how they interact with each other in public. This, incidentally, is not traditional. As late as WWII it was common for straight men to be affectionate with each other in public.

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/presssite/metadata.epl?mode=synopsis&bookkey=3771153

John Ibson
Picturing Men
A Century of Male Relationships in Everyday American Photography

There was a time in America when two men pictured with their arms wrapped around each other, or perhaps holding hands, weren’t necessarily seen as sexually involved—a time when such gestures could be seen simply as those of intimate friendship rather than homoeroticism.

Such is the time John Ibson evokes in Picturing Men, a striking visual record of changes in attitudes about relationships between gentlemen, soldiers, cowboys, students, lumberjacks, sailors, and practical jokers. Spanning from 1850 to 1950, the 142 everyday photographs that richly illustrate Picturing Men radiate playfulness, humor, and warmth. They portray a lost world for American men: a time when their relationships with each other were more intimate than they commonly are today, regardless of sexual orientation. Picturing Men starkly contrasts the calm affection displayed in earlier photographs with the absence of intimacy in photos from the mid-1950s on. In doing so, this lively, accessible book makes a significant contribution to American history and cultural studies, gender studies, and the history of photography.

This is also still the norm in many developing countries. I'm currently living in the tiny post-Soviet country of Armenia and I can not even begin to describe how incredibly different the idea of male affection here is. It is the most common thing in the world to walk down the streets and see young men walking arm in arm, or men leaning against each other to the point of downright cuddling. One wonders whether homosexuality has the unfortunate effect of making male affection less acceptable for a time for fear of being perceived as gay.

With all the simulated sex acts and making out, did anyone notice the most obnoxious thing about the performance to me was the man couldn't hit a note to save his life.

I mean, he sounded terrible. Absolutely god-forsaken terrible. He was off-pitch the whole time. I literally couldn't watch the you tube for the infamous kiss, because he was about to make my ears bleed.

I mean, for god sake, want someone think of the children?

There is probably a plague of ear infections hitting American schools right about now.

Someone, please, please- think of the children!

"...I'm constantly being crushed under my own massive ennui."

One of the funniest lines I've read lately. Also, a good column.

As an avid Adam Lambert fan, I feel the need to defend him. He has stated repeatedly that he makes his own decisions and that he is not a "sock puppet" and is in control of his career. He admits that he was in the moment and full of adrenaline and did not plan to shock or disturb people. He has offered no apology to middle America for exposing them to gay male sexuality. He has stated that he does not want to be political or a role model. He admitted that if he were to change anything about his performance, he would have sung it better. People have made no mention of the simulated fisting of a female performer during the same performance. He is a very articulate man and just wants to be a rock star.

Regardless of how you feel about pop culture and its vapidity, how can you say he is not relevant when many of his fans are young and are not grossed out by his sexuality (on the MTV show "Its on with Alexa Chung" the audience went crazy when they showed the infamous kiss). He is the face of gay pop sensibility and deriding him for his stunts only serve to make young people defend him and like him more for it. He offers something new and different for many people who are not gay and have never been exposed to unabashed gay male sexuality. The fact that he is enjoying some mainstream acceptance by young people is indicative of the changing tide, in my opinion. We should be proud that he does not try to hide his sexuality or make it more palatable for straight people. I know I am.

Oh, Bah and double bah!

That the straight world gets a little miffed at a kiss is hardly news unless you live in a major rose colored closet where you believe equality is just a bill or two away.

We should actually start with a mirror and ask why we care? The answer is off course that we have been co-facilitators in tossing our sexually non-conforming brethren under the bus for years. And no I am not playing that quickly growing stale "gender variations" card. I am talking about SEX not identification. We as a gay community have totally forgotten that we were and still are sexual radicals who are running from that status to pass a few bills in Congress. It has now gotten so bad that we will sit around and devote space to arguing about how we should respond to a gay man! Please, the proper answer to this is a laugh and a proud declaration that Lambert is a horrible kisser.