Adam Lambert: From Closeted 'Idol' to AMA Provocateur

Adam Lambert has come a long way.

The once sexually ambiguous, aspiring "American Idol" made one thing clear with his provocative performance and man-on-man kiss during Sunday's performance at the "American Music Awards": He's gay enough.

"It's great, he can be himself now," gossip columnist Perez Hilton said. "He doesn't have to play it safe to get votes and, at the end of the day, it's all working. I applaud him for that performance. It was ballsy. It wasn't perfect, definitely not his best vocal. But I loved it. I loved it."

VIDEO: Adam Lamberts AMA performance receives audience complaints.
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Lambert's AMA performance appeared to repudiate recent criticism from Out magazine editor Aaron Hicklin that the openly gay singer was not "gay enough."

Village Voice columnist Michael Musto told ABCNews.com, "Adam's gesture might have been a reaction to the 'not gay enough' criticism, but weren't there also lots of dancing women in his number? I think his marketing will always try to keep him out of the closet, yet with ambiguities his people will continue to sneak in there."

Lambert's trajectory from closeted "Idol" to openly gay AMA provocateur has not been without controversy.

Speculation was rampant about Lambert's sexuality during his run on "American Idol." But the singer refused to comment on his use of eyeliner or his declaration on a YouTube video that kissing girls was "not necessarily" his preference.

He did confirm that photos posted on the "American Idol"-mocking Web site votefortheworst.com, which depicted him dressed in drag and kissing another man, were real and taken at the Burning Man arts festival. "I have nothing to hide," he told "Access Hollywood."

"I am who I am. And this is about singing … nothing else."

That comment was made before Lambert was voted into "Idol's" top 12 and Fox cut off media access to him and his family. Lambert would have to wait until after his second-place finish to publicly come out on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, followed by his first television appearance on "20/20."

From Not Gay Enough to Too Gay

But it's not been all smooth sailing since.

In a letter published in the December issue of Out, in which Lambert appears on the cover with Wanda Sykes and Cyndi Lauper, Hicklin complained that Lambert's management didn't want him to appear "too gay," which is why the cover shot includes Lauper, a straight woman.

Lambert responded via Twitter: "Dear Aaron, it's def not that deep. Chill! Guess ya gotta get attention for the magazine. U too are at the mercy of the marketing machine. Until we have a meaningful conversation, perhaps you should refrain from projecting your publications' agenda onto my career."

David Hauslaib, editorial director for gay Web site Queerty.com, told ABCNews.com, "His response to Out was appropriate. He is a performer who doesn't want to be branded as a gay civil rights hero. He just wants to be known as a pop star who happens to be gay. I think it's an admirable request. I also think it's unreasonable for the most famous gay pop singer."

Many people were waiting for Sunday to see what the most famous gay pop singer would do during his first live performance at a major awards show, and Lambert promised to break new ground.

"There are a lot of double standards as far as that goes," Lambert told The Associated Press before the AMAs. "We've seen female pop and rock performers do that for the last 10 years. They've been very provocative, owning their power and sexuality.

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