Huffpost Entertainment
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Shawn Amos Headshot

Adam Lambert and the Greatest Gay Musical Icons of All Time

Posted: Updated:
Print

The countdown has begun to Adam Lambert's new album release. "For Your Entertainment" hits stores November 23, just in time for all of those Thanksgiving raves.

The album is an exercise in production overload and musical ADD. Lambert (and his handlers) want to make sure no part of the Lambert army is left unsatisfied. "For Your Entertainment" bounces between Euro-disco, rock bombast, power ballads, and '80s synth attacks. It's an album seemingly made by a focus group instead of musicians.

Despite the musical hopscotch, one thing is consistent: Lambert's gayness. "For Your Entertainment" is unmistakably an album meant for gay greatness. The Glambert has joined the ranks of the great gay icons. In fact, with this album (and what is certain to be an insanely overblown tour), Lambert is staking his claim as THE gay musical icon. The cover alone should secure his spot. It's a pretty gay cover.

It's also a bold move. Clearly, Lambert senses a changing of the guard is imminent, as the top tier of iconic gay performers -- Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, Cher anyone? -- has gone unchallenged for years. He even brought in fellow contemporary gay icon Lady Gaga (on her song "Fever") to help him claim his throne.

Who's the gayest musical icon? [Poll]

Gay icons are different from any other icons in one key respect: they don't have to be gay. Yes, it helps, just like being black helps anyone wanting to be the first black President. Still, actual gayness is not a prerequisite to being adored by the audience. These musicians -- gay or straight -- all share one thing that makes them iconic (aside from a good dance beat): tolerance. It's a lesson we could all use.

As performers, they are the great uniters. Admit it, all of you breeders: you love a little Village People when no one's looking. You've sung "Macho Man" in the shower at least once. All of you closeted jocks singing "We Will Rock You" at the stadium -- you feel a little gay, right? No? Is that just me?

While the Glambert reaches for his crown, here's a reminder of the legendary artists he'll have to beat back. It's sure to be a struggle. I don't know any gay icon who'd give up his or her crown easily.

Freddie Mercury (Gay)


The beloved Queen frontman is the Susan B. Anthony of gay rock icons. Mercury consistently denied rumors of his homosexuality until a day before his death in 1991 from AIDS complications. This, despite his years of romps at gay bathhouses, an affair with a male record exec, and a five-year live-in relationship. Still, his classic rock defiance is a rallying cry for gay and straight alike (and he looked good in those short-shorts).

Madonna (Not Gay)
Madge is the First Lady of gay icons. She fought hard for her spot with more than 20 years of girl-on-girl kissing and dominatrix wardrobe changes, not to mention her army of waxed, bare-chested dancers. She has something for every gay-loving music fan, and at age 51 she's still able -- barely -- to fend off Lady Gaga in a staged cat fight.

Rufus Wainwright (Gay)
Loudon's little boy is the icon for the downtown New York hipster set. His mastery of baroque pop and love of Judy Garland (he re-created her 1961 Carnegie Hall album in the same spot) alone would cement his stature as a gay icon. But earlier this year, Rufus went further than any other previous gay pop star when he debuted his first opera. It was met with mixed reviews, but it still brought him one step closer to gay icon immortality.

Barbra Streisand (Not Gay)
Babs is hands down the grand dame of gay icons. She was part of the gay community from the start of her 50-year career. She staged her first act in 1960 at a Manhattan gay bar called The Lion, and her 1961 television debut was the result of Orson Bean discovering her while she was performing at another gay club. Streisand's musical drama, famous bitchiness, and unbridled diva-ness are unparalleled. She's the gay icon's icon.

Elton John (Gay)
Elton John is a gay icon late bloomer. During his closeted troubadour days in the '70s, John was a hero to every sensitive, wannabe singer-songwriter within 100 miles of a coffee house. But as the glitter became more prevalent and the costume changes more flamboyant, the folkies fled. A new head of hair and a civil partnership with David Furnish has given John a new level of confidence in his gayness.

Out of the closet: Which gay icon gets you groovin'? [Poll]