June 9, 2009— -- After months of speculation about his sexuality, "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert has finally come out, telling Rolling Stone magazine, "I don't think it should be a surprise to anyone to hear that I'm gay."
"I'm proud of my sexuality," he adds. "I embrace it. It's just another part of me."
As to why he did not come out publicly earlier, Lambert says, "I'm trying to be a singer, not a civil rights leader."
Watch Adam Lambert's interview on "20/20" FRIDAY at 10 p.m. ET.
"I realized that we all have our own power, and that whatever I wanted to do, I had to make happen," he says.
Lambert's revelation comes on the heels of a new recording contract and announced plans to release a debut album this fall on RCA Records. Lambert signed with 19 Recordings, owned by "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller.
The interview follows almost two weeks after "American Idol" judge Kara DioGuardisaid on ABC's "The View" that there's no way he's not gay.
Asked by Barbara Walters whether Lambert's perceived sexuality may have influenced "Idol" voters to pick clean-cut Kris Allen over him, DioGuardi said, "Well, first of all, I hope not ... because we should be judging on talent and viability in the music industry and they both [Lambert and Allen] had that."
Either way, she said, "I don't think that Adam [Lambert] was ever in [the closet]," DioGuardi continued. "I think he was always openly out."
When Walters asked again if the new "Idol" judge thinks Lambert "was always openly out," because that wasn't necessarily the public perception, DioGuardi countered, "I think he was. I mean from what I've seen ... I do. I never thought he wasn't."
Prior to his Rolling Stone interview, Lambert never publicly acknowledged that he's gay. His penchant for eyeliner, nail polish and hair gel led many to believe that he is homosexual. A YouTube video in which he declares kissing girls is "not necessarily" his preference and photos of him making out with guys bolstered that assumption.
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Lambert did confirm that photos posted on the "Idol"-mocking Web site votefortheworst.com, depicting him dressed in drag and kissing another man, were real and taken at the Burning Man festival where he had his "Idol" epiphany. When asked about the photos by "Access Hollywood," he said, "I have nothing to hide. I am who I am. And this is about singing ... nothing else."
He tells Rolling Stone that immediately after finishing his "Idol" run, he wanted to open up but decided to wait for the right forum to do so. However, he didn't want to wait as long as another "Idol" runner-up who was scorned when he came out on the cover of People magazine after years of speculation about his sexuality.
"Right after the finale, I almost started talking about it to the reporters, but I thought, 'I'm going to wait for Rolling Stone, that will be cooler,' " Lambert says. "I didn't want the Clay Aiken thing and the celebrity-magazine bull****. I need to be able to explain myself in context."