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Adam Lambert Says Homophobic Backlash Post-‘American Idol’ Inspired Him to ‘Be as Gay’ as Possible

Adam Lambert is looking back on the homophobia he endured after finishing as runner-up on American Idol in 2009 — and how it sparked confidence within him.

The singer-songwriter spoke through his early career years during an acceptance speech at The Creative Coalition’s annual Spotlight Initiative Awards Gala Dinner with Entertainment Weekly in Park City, Utah on Saturday, noting that he didn’t think he would go far on American Idol upon auditioning.

“I was like, ‘Man, I don’t think they’re going to take me. I’m the gay guy. This is a pipe dream,'” said Lambert, 40. “And I made it to the final and I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I had no idea that it would go that long.”

While he quickly shot to success after his season of Idol ended, public speculation regarding his sexuality soon swirled: “Once I got off the show, I got signed a record contract. There was an Entertainment Weekly article that was like, ‘Oh, this guy’s exciting, and it may or not be because he might be gay.’ And I was like, ‘Might be?!'”

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Adam Lambert on ‘American Idol’. Kevin Winter/American Idol 2009/Getty
Describing the “very interesting journey” throughout the entertainment industry that followed his experience on the singing competition show, Lambert said, “There were no gay guys. It was kind of the Wild West in terms of that.”

He then recalled doing a controversial performance of his debut single “For Your Entertainment” at the 2009 American Music Awards, which ended in a kiss with one of his male band members and sparked controversy at the time.

“I did the kind of performance I had seen since I was a teenager. I was kind of sexy, and had dancers on stage, and I did a couple of suggestive moves with a couple of dancers, and an impromptu kiss with my bass player. I was feeling it,” said Lambert. “Well, I got off stage and I got in trouble. The network was like, ‘How dare you?’ They banned me for a while. They threatened me with a lawsuit.”

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