LOUD & PROUD: Adam Lambert Reveals The Icons Who First Made It Okay To Be Gay

Adam was the first openly gay artist to debut an album at the op of the US Billboard chart.
loud and proud

HuffPost UK is turning Loud & Proud, celebrating gay culture in all its forms across the entertainment industry - remembering those pioneers who paved the way, celebrating the breadth of expression we have now, and asking - what is left to be done?

For this series, we've asked a series of gay luminaries to select their most significant moments of gay culture, and explain how it inspired them to break through walls of discrimination, small-mindedness and ignorance.

Adam Lambert is a ceiling-smasher in his own right, as the first openly gay musical artist to debut an album at the top of the US Billboard chart. Since 2009, when he came second on 'American Idol', he has sold more than two million albums, and been Grammy-nominated. He has also taken his place as Freddie Mercury's most natural heir, playing alongside the remaining members of Queen on their worldwide tour since 2011.

<strong>Adam Lambert was the first openly gay artist to have an album debut at the top of the US Billboard chart</strong>
Adam Lambert was the first openly gay artist to have an album debut at the top of the US Billboard chart
Noam Galai via Getty Images

We asked Adam...

What is the first gay cultural moment that you can remember?
I remember seeing RuPaul on VH1, and being fascinated with this drag queen. I'd not seen one before. Also watching 'Will and Grace'. I remember watching the show with my family, and we all laughed, which helped us a lot. It broke the ice and opened the way to their accepting me as their gay son.

What do you consider to be the most significant moment in film, TV or music, when it comes to embracing gay culture and broadening understanding?
'My So-Called Life' was a big deal. Wilson Cruz was one of the first gay teenage actors to appear on screen, and I took note of that. For young teenagers, it was all about getting to know those people, and to think 'That could be me.'

TV and film have had an incredible influence on understanding the LGBT community, on breaking down barriers, on providing understanding and comfort. These shows help with all of that, because one of the great barriers has been people's fearfulness.

<strong>Adam credits 'Will and Grace' for allowing his family to laugh together</strong>
Adam credits 'Will and Grace' for allowing his family to laugh together
Will and Grace

What has been the one thing that you’ve been able to do yourself?
My last album 'Trespassing' opening at number one on the chart, that was the first album to do it by an openly gay artist. I was so pleased to have that happen, I didn't even realise the significance until later. But that's a big deal, for me and for everyone who hopefully follows.

What's the biggest thing left to do?
We’re moving in the right direction. We need more diversity in mainstream music, but I think we're at the tipping point. It shouldn’t matter, it should be the afterthought, but we’ll get there.

Some British artists are coming through, and it’s not even a thing now, which is great to see.

Up until 'Idol', I’d lived out and proud, I didn’t think about coming out, it was just my life. Suddenly, after 'American Idol', I was having to talk about it and explain it, it was very strange to me. They kind of wanted me analysing it."

At least you didn’t go back in the cupboard by mistake? He chuckles. “None of that.”

HuffPost UK is turning Loud & Proud. Over the next fortnight, we'll be celebrating how gay culture has influenced and, in turn, been embraced by all fields of entertainment, inspiring cinema-goers, TV audiences, music-lovers and wider society with its wit, creativity and power of expression.

Through features, video and blogs, we'll be championing those brave pioneers who paved the way, exploring the broad range of gay culture in British film, TV and music and asking - what is left to be done? If you’d like to blog on our platform around these topics, please email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com with a summary of who you are and what you’d like to blog about.

Noel Coward

Loud&Proud: Pioneers Who Paved The Way

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