But Lambert seems to have arrived at the right time and in the right package. With his intense eye-makeup, highly styled hair and propensity to dress in drag, he fits into a group of legendary gender-bending male performers known and loved by Americans, like Elton John, David Bowie and Prince. And he's competing on "Idol" in an age when Americans are embracing the gay community more than ever before.
"We just legalized same-sex marriage in two states in two days," said Corey Scholibo, arts and entertainment editor of The Advocate, referring to the measures passed in Vermont and Iowa. "Things are happening. I think he's an example of change ... I think the gay community thinks he's already one of us."
Not everyone's so optimistic. Village Voice culture critic Michael Musto talked exclusively with ex-stripper and "Idol" contestant Hernandez for his latest column. When Musto commented that Lambert hasn't been voted off despite the gay speculation, Hernandez countered, "not yet."
But as has always been the case, it's up to voters to decide how far Lambert goes in the competition. And with the six other remaining contenders often failing to match his talents, there's no reason why Lambert shouldn't become America's newest "Idol," whether gay, straight or simply a show-stopping singer with a fierce sense of style.