As some of you probably know, I've never been shy about expressing my opinions. I may, in fact, have been called a few names due to my readiness to share my Tis-spective (dorking out!). One of the most common rhymes with 'gliberal twitch' while the runner-up sounds something like 'mucking bunt.' I accept that the people who've said these things are entitled to their opinions and are in no way obligated to agree with me. That doesn't mean I won't continue sharing my point of view with even the slightest provocation.
Now, before I get to the meat of the matter, which in this case is an opinion piece written and published by one of the owners of the South Florida Gay News (aka - SFGN -- a publication of which I was only vaguely aware prior to yesterday), allow me to say this:
*DISCLAIMER: I am not now -- nor have I ever been -- gay. I sincerely doubt that I will become so in future. (Loki knows I tried in college, but it just wasn't my thing.)*
As such, some people within the gay community might think I have no business weighing in on something that doesn't affect me since I'm straight. (Yes, I've been told this before. More than once. Because apparently I'm supposed to ignore the fact that we're all human, regardless of our sexual orientations.)
In an effort to establish my 'right' to have anything to say about 'gay issues,' allow me to present my credentials, so to speak:
I was thirteen or fourteen when I met my first openly gay man. He was nineteen and worked at my local bookstore. We became friends -- largely because I was mature for my age and he was rather the opposite. Also possibly due to one of the first books I bought from him at the store being Gordon Merrick's The Lord Won't Mind. *grins* I was a bit precocious, I suppose.
In any case, we became friends. I met his boyfriend, with whom he lived, spent time with them both for years, and even watch my first gay porn at their house, though I was sixteen by then. I went to my first gay bar. A year later, when I was in college, I met my first openly gay woman. She and I were friends for a few years before drifting apart when her college experience ended. (No, she's not the one I tried to be gay with, just for the record.)
Through these friendships I met other people and became more comfortable with the gay community than I ever was with the heterosexuals I was supposed to have so much more in common with. The gay people I've known ever since meeting that first man at fourteen have always been more accepting and friendly to me than 'normal' people. In fact, my experiences with my 'gay friends' led me to accept various aspects of my own personality… aspects that had been actively discouraged by my straight family and the straight society around whose fringes I danced.
I lived through the horror (and that's not me being dramatic) of the later part of the AIDS epidemic, though it's still going on today. I was there when friends got the news that they were HIV positive. I held them while they cried. I watched far too many of them die slowly, surrounded by their own fear and that of their families while also surrounded by hatred from people who not only didn't understand how the virus was spread and really didn't want to. At the time, it was considered a Gay Disease, though it wasn't and still isn't. (I could go on about HIV and AIDS for hours, but I won't. Not today. That's not the point of this post.)
I went to more funerals and memorials in two years than many people will ever attend in their entire lifetimes.
Later, when I became a bit more interested in the politics of equal rights, I started making the occasional post on Live Journal and engaging in discussions with people (these discussions often ended in me being loudly referred to as the aforementioned gliberal twitch and mucking bunt).
More recently, I've volunteered with marriage equality organizations here in Maryland, leading up to the 2012 Presidential election. I canvassed, provided transportation services, and offered financial support as well. Not because I'm gay and want the right to marry a same sex partner, but because it was the right thing to do. Because I firmly believe that those citizens born or naturalized in this country (in all countries, but again, that's a topic for another time) should have the same rights under the law. Because there is no document set forth by our government that assigns different degrees of citizenship to people based upon race, creed, color or sexuality.
Every U.S. citizen has the same responsibility under the law. Every U.S. citizen should have the same rights and receive the same exact benefits of citizenship. This is something I believe so strongly that I will not ever feel easy in my own skin until it is made so.
So, no. I'm not gay, but I think I'm aware enough of the 'gay community' and the 'gay experience' (though I really think it's the 'human community' and 'human experience,' but that's just me) that I'm allowed to have opinions regarding things that happen in the 'gay community.'
If you disagree, you are of course welcome to do so. It won't change whether I choose to express myself or not. And frankly, I think I have enough 'gay street cred' to speak on. So.
* * * * * * * * *
The point of this long-ass, rambling path through Tis-tory (yes, I really am this much of a dork), is the opinion piece that appeared in the SFGN. It seems the owner and his partner disapprove of GLAAD's decision to honor Adam Lambert with the Davidson/Valentini Award at their 2013 Gala.
From GLAAD's website (written by Ricky Carter, Media Awards Associate at GLAAD): "The Davidson/Valentini Award is named after Craig Davidson, GLAAD's first executive director, and his partner Michael Valentini. The award is presented to an out LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community. Previous Davidson/Valentini honorees include Lee Daniels, Chad Allen, Ilene Chaiken, Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, Alec Mapa, B.D. Wong, and Sandra Bernhard."
So the owner of the SFGN disagrees with GLAAD's decision and chose to announce it in rather strong terms. He states that he and his partner were on holiday when the issue of the paper (or magazine; I'm not really sure which it is but will refer to it as a paper from here on) came out and that they'd both "wanted to puke" at seeing Lambert on the cover. He then proceeded to "thank" Adam Lambert -- along with one of the paper's reporters who'd broken the news of Lambert's two year relationship breaking up -- for crashing their website because so many people, including other press outlets, were linking to them and trying to read the story, as it was an exclusive. The break-up, I mean.
I'm not going to go further into what this man said. If you're interested, you can read it for yourself here: http://southfloridagaynews.com/articles/adam-lamberts-glaad-award-a-joke/112235. You can also read what the other reporter -- the one who broke the break-up story -- had to say in response to his boss' opinion piece here: http://southfloridagaynews.com/articles/in-defense-of-adam-lambert/112304. (The comments on both these items are numerous and express some thoughts far better than I ever could. Feel free to slog through them. *grins*)
Please understand that I am in no way saying this paper owner doesn't have a right to his opinion. He absolutely does. However, having read his article, I feel that his opinion is based on assumptions and a lack of actual information.
He seems to believe that Lambert is the next thing to a half-closeted, self-hating gay who has done absolutely nothing in support of the 'gay community' aside from doing a benefit for marriage equality in Maryland (which I attended, by the way, because it was for the organization I was volunteering with at the time, and who am I to turn down a good show, especially when it's for charity? The tickets were not cheap and even though the show was thrown together literally four or five days before the date itself, turnout was very good and a lot of money was raised for the cause)… and wearing a purple shirt for Spirit Day.
I will agree that from what I've seen, Lambert came to his own particular type of activism late. By which I mean he didn't come out of American Idol waving a rainbow flag and vowing to rid the world of all wrongs perpetrated upon his GLBT peeps. He said more than once that he wanted to be seen as a singer and entertainer who happened to be gay; not as a gay performer. Honestly, I can understand that stance, though I have to admit to finding it a bit naïve. (I'm fairly sure the first black athlete on a pro team didn't much want to be known as 'that black ball player,' just as the first woman astrophysicist didn't care for being called 'that woman rocket scientist,' you know? But that's how humans are. When something's different from what we're used to, in whatever way, we notice. And if someone's the sort to enjoy using that difference to mock or denigrate a person's accomplishments, they will.)
The upshot of this is that Lambert competed on American Idol, not American GLBT Activist. A singing competition, not a political strategizing contest. There was and is nothing about his success that obligated him to take up the mantle of 'his people' and become a voice for equal rights. And yet… he did.
Maybe not right away, and clearly not quickly or vociferously enough for some (like the man who wrote the first opinion piece linked above), but he did take that step. I honestly can't think of any other out performer of his generation who's made such a point of being open about how he feels with regards to equal rights and marriage equality. And he has no obligation to do so.
That's the important part, here. The only responsibility Lambert has with regards to GLBT activism is the responsibility he lays upon himself, and that's as it should be. Nobody should feel as though they are required to use their popularity or influence according to someone else's timeline. Nobody should feel they have the right to dictate someone else's actions purely by dint of sharing the same sexuality.
Adam Lambert seems to have taken on a more passive sort of activism that some parts of the 'gay community' like, but in the end it seems to me to be a good thing.
He's openly gay, yes, but he's also much more than that.
He's a world-class singer with near-endless potential, in my opinion. (Even if you don't like his music, there's no denying that the man can sing like nobody's business.) He's exceptionally well-spoken, and not solely due to growing up in what I've been told is an upper-middle class area (I grew up in a similar type of neighborhood and you wouldn't believe how many of the people I went to school with are barely able to string together an understandable sentence using words of more than two syllables. This is not a joke!). He has a completely dorky sense of humor (from what I've read) and seems to enjoy a good single entendre (personal experience, here, from that benefit at the 9:30 Club for Marylanders for Marriage Equality). He knows who he is and isn't ashamed of it. Oh, and he's pretty. Very, very pretty. (I've listed this last as it is the least important of the attributes I've mentioned. Not that it doesn't matter. If Lambert looked like Quasimodo, would any of us even be here right now? So it matters, but not as much as it would if he didn't have all the rest in his favor.)
Lambert has played shows all over the world to sold out crowds. Performed before hundreds of millions on Chinese television. He's fronted for Queen, done his thing in Russia, Amsterdam, and who knows how many other places (I'm sure the Glamberts out there could give an exact accounting, but I can't). And all while being openly gay and up-front about his love life in a way that's not threatening. He talks about dating in the same way a heterosexual musician would (actually, he's less graphic than many straight male musicians -- and even some female musicians -- are). He consistently seems to be exactly who he lets us see, by which I mean he's…
A singer. A performer who puts on a hell of a good show. A man with ideas and ideals and a musically experimental nature that he obviously enjoys exploring. Someone who is becoming an icon in a way rarely seen these days.
Notice I didn't say a 'gay icon.'
Why? Because it's not necessary. Everyone knows he's gay. Most of us, thank deity of choice, also know that's not all he is.
If I know that much without being gay myself and with applying only the most superficial Google-fu… (full disclosure, I'm not actually a Glambert. I just don't like seeing anyone unfairly maligned, and while I do like some of Lambert's music, I'm not what I'd call a Glambert. Maybe Glambert-lite. Like coffee that's three-quarters cream… or half. No, three-quarters sounds about right. *wry grin*)
The point is, if even I know Lambert is much more than just gay, how the hell can someone who ostensibly owns a gay paper not know it, too? How can this person not understand that Lambert is a singer, a performer and an entertainer, just as much as (if not more than) a gay man?
Lack of interest? Relying on hearsay? Luddite-istic dislike of Google with a side of Bing-phobia? The world may never know.
What I know right now, in this moment, is that in my opinion, the people within the 'gay community' who want to lambast Lambert for not being gay 'enough' or not supporting gay causes 'enough' are either unaware of just how much he does to advance equal rights just by living his life… or they don't care. The former can at least be remedied by five minutes on the internet. The latter… that's just a shame.
(As always, any opinions presented within this post are solely my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any of my co-blog-authors. I claim no authority or godhood in stating my opinions and expect nobody to swear allegiance to me. Though I do think everyone should, just on general principle, because I'm pretty fecking awesome, even if I do say so myself. :P)