Adam Lambert and the Decline of the Power Gay

12 Feb

New BLoGT contributor Marc tells a tale of a peril, in which an internship brings him face-to-face with his aversion to Adam Lambert:

Straight out of a print ad in GQ, a tall clean cut man with a slicked down side part struts along Second Avenue in plastic-frame glasses, dark skinny jeans and a brown leather tote in hand, exuding confidence. The look in his eyes lets passers-by know he knows he’s in charge.  We’ve all seen him. He’s handsome, he’s stylish, and he makes you get out of his way while still forcing you to keep your focus upon him.  These days, he and men just like him have been categorized as Power Gays: gay males, usually in their early 30’s, each with a successfully jumpstarted career and an impeccable fashion sense who are earning Jewish mother-satisfying salaries while leading culturally sophisticated lives.  Frankly, this is who I wanted to be ten years from now, which is probably why I have always stared so much in admiration at these fellow pedestrians in particular (if not to find out where that bag was from).

It is no surprise then, that I was skittish with delight when I recently interviewed for an internship with a well-spoken young power gay named Nick at an upscale luxury architectural hardware company whose office at least several more power gays with gently styled curls, form fitting sweaters and highly polished wingtips.  The office itself was glossy and spotless, with glistening glass doors and sleek sienna-hued desk chairs situated in an interior designed by men with refined eyes.  Encouraged by my environment, I talked up a self-promotional storm at the meeting, unaffected by the shrieking voice at the back of my head notifying me, “This is it! At last, your early initiation into the faaabulous life of a power gay! Don’t blow it!” When I left this oasis of a workspace that day I was certain I had gotten the job, and sure enough only days later I received a call from Nick informing me how great he thought I was and asking me how soon I could start.

Immediately I was besieged with visions of my rise up this business gay food chain, chatting my way through hordes of paisley button downs at elegant evening office wine and cheese soirees, entertaining the gents with my “working knowledge of French” (as listed on my resume) and my opinions on the recently released Tom Ford film.  Debonair-Moi is making acquaintance with well-known gay designers, architects, art critiques, business connoisseurs, and they ALL love me and think I’m the next best thing.  Suddenly my sophomoric college dormitory is being hailed as revolutionary with a full spread in Interior Design Magazine, and I’m pretty sure everyone is looking at me strut my stuff down the street because I just look THAT good and everyone knows it, especially me.

Okay, okay, so perhaps this speculation is a tad exaggerated and my coup as power-gay superior may take me a bit longer than a week to achieve, but it gradually had to go something like this, right?

I began work on a Monday, and within a week, had realized that Nick owns (and wears to work) a dull gray zip-up ribbed sweater with a huge Puma logo on the breast and am uncertain at this point if he has more than one pair of pants to wear to the office.  He has also yet to figure out which face cream he should be applying to conceal those dark circles around his eyes, since he’s constantly complaining of insomnia.  And, to top this all off, I soon discovered that Nick subjects the office’s speaker system next to him to only one radio station that plays nothing but American Top 40 hits (which really seems like the same top six songs) over and over every day.  Where are the Rufus Wainwright and Billie Holiday masterpieces to which we should be listening?  This music selection is further exacerbated by the office conversation that ensued, which also served as the tipping point towards my absolute internal pandemonium.  One day at work, the recently popular song  “Whataya Want From Me” by Adam Lambert came on for yet another play (its 4th that morning), when Nick said to Kyle, “Oh my gosh, I just listened last night to Lambert’s whole CD and it’s actually quite fantastic.”

I gagged a little bit, picturing the first single’s album cover upon which Lambert’s face is encased by the singer’s polished black-nailed fingers spread-wide, each sheathed in a thick metallic ring linked together by chain to the ringed fingers on either side of it. I managed to maintain this state of revulsion as Nick and Kyle discussed the work of genius track by track, commenting on this falsetto note Lambert hit in a song called “Soaked” and that particular synthesizer beat in a song with the lyrics: “So I got my boots on, got the right amount of leather, and I’m doing me up with a black colored liner.”

How could it be that these supposedly mature and intelligent business successes could divest themselves of their culturally chic personas to fall for a guy in pleather pants whose biggest claim to fame thus far is his on stage male-male make-out and gyration session during his, like, second public performance ever post American Idol? Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for Lambert’s push for freedom of expression and equality in the industry—he just clearly wasn’t looking to paint an image of sophistication and refinement with all that on stage tongue action directed at his keyboardist.

And even if one of these men had shamefully developed some closet affinity for the pop star’s blue-black dyed coiffure or his excessive need for glittery metallic accessories, how on earth could he be comfortable enough to thoughtlessly express his feelings to men worried about matching their Ferragamo ties to their Prada shoes? Why was I so turned off by Nick and Kyle’s revealing comments that I was unable to chime in and provide my own favorite Lambert tune?

Just because he was gay and famous, was I supposed to love the Glambert too? And if so, why did I hate him so much?

I realized that I had built up this image of who men like Kyle and Nick should be; what they wear, which books they read, how they act, what they eat, and who they listen to.  I thought I had finally found a discrete cluster of society with which I could identify, and I automatically presumed that all members were the same visions of gay-refined-perfection.   Out of desperation to fit in I had stereotyped, assuming that I was entering into a highly exclusive club where if you broke the rules of sophistication you would be banished from this upscale design community’s Garden of Eden.

In fact, while these men certainly had distinguished tastes when it came to all sorts of cultural fields, there was in fact no strictly written Power-Guide-for-Power-Gays handbook, and thus these men in fact had multifaceted personalities, some of which included a taste for the likes of Adam Lambert.

In fact, in my incessant drive to be included in a group of people I wanted to look and act like, I purposely stored extraneous details about myself in a bottom drawer somewhere.  Can I really sit here and tell you that I have never enjoyed a Britney Spears or Lady Gaga hit? No, unfortunately I cannot.  But although these facts are perhaps not the first things I’d like to include about myself in a conversation, they are nevertheless, aspects of me as an individual.  And despite these unrefined attributes, I still would consider myself a (wannabe) power gay. Thus, in their fanatic discussion over the depths of Adam Lambert’s performances, perhaps Nick and Kyle, are not in fact delegitimizing their statuses as power gays, and instead are just expressing other forms of their not so simple personalities.

Alas, while I was able to maintain my Lambert hatred for a bit longer, I most recently caved in out of curiosity (and a desire to have something, anything to say at work at all) and downloaded Lambert’s CD in full. And let me tell you, it is most certainly no Rufus beautifully crooning “Foolish Love” on piano.  But, after forty something plays a day, day after day, the cheesily-misspelled-to-condense “Whataya Want” catchiness is growing on me, and I guess the album’s not too bad, either. But please, I beg of you, don’t tell anyone I said so.


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