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Adam Lambert compares coming out story to Will Young’s: ‘The UK’s a little ahead in acceptance and visibility’

"We're offset by, like, a decade" says Adam of the singers' public coming out journeys

By Jamie Tabberer

Close ups of Adam Lambert and Will Young
Adam Lambert and Will Young (Images: Attitude/Jamie Noise)

Adam Lambert has compared his public coming out journey to that of his pop peer Will Young.

Adam endured homophobia while shooting to fame in American Idol in 2009, and publicly confirmed his sexuality in an interview with Rolling Stone later that year.

Will came out publicly in 2001, days after winning Pop Idol, to preempt a tabloid looking to out him.

“I was the first one to do it on American Idol – but the UK had Will” – Adam Lambert

Reflecting on the timelines of their respective experiences, Adam said in a recent interview with ITVX: “It’s funny because I feel like the UK in many ways is almost a little ahead of the US in terms of acceptance and visibility. For me, being an artist that came from a TV competition show and then coming out, I was the first one to do it on American Idol – but the UK had Will Young maybe 10 years prior, so we’re offset by like a decade.”

The 42-year-old continued: “It’s fun for me to look at this through an UK lens. If I think about iconic queer musicians the first ones that come to mind are almost all UK artists – Elton, Freddie, Bowie, Boy George – these are queer men for example, but it all started from British artists so for me coming up and realising my dream of wanting to be an artist on stage – a singer outside of musical theatre – those were my touchstones and that felt like a really exciting place to dig into.”

The ‘For Your Entertainment’ singer was speaking ahead of his new documentary Adam Lambert: Out, Loud and Proud, airing on ITV1 tonight at 9pm.

“It’s a look at the last 40-50 years of pop culture in the UK, particularly the musicians that have trail-blazed into our current times, in regards to queer representation,” explained Adam. “It’s still something that we’re working towards and there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of equality. But it is getting better and it’s really fun to look back at where it started and how things have changed.”

“I don’t think we hear enough about gay men my age and older” – Will Young

Will, 45, recently opened up about ageing as a gay man, saying in an interview: “There’s a lot of positive, celebratory queer stories out there, which is great, but I don’t think we hear enough about gay men my age and older. Sometimes you can feel a bit othered and a bit outsider still.”

The ‘Leave Right Now’ singer furthermore told ZERO.NINE Magazine: “Sometimes as you get older, you look in the mirror and think ’what happened to me?’ I saw some pictures of myself the other day, and I thought ‘who the fuck is that?’ I looked like an old man! I think it’s good to be honest about that stuff rather than always trying to cover it up, always pretending everything’s perfect.”

Adam’s new EP AFTERS is out 19 July, while Wills new album Light It Up is out 9 August.