(Picture borrowed from I-forget-where, but it's awesome and Thank You!!!)
We've won online polls. We've gotten mentions from more than one radio station and TV show. Again and again we've heard, "Your fans are insane!" directed to Adam in interviews. And don't lie, you know you smile with pride each and every time.
The title "Glambert" is a term conveying awe, admiration, and pride, and is viewed askance by those unfamiliar with the ins and outs associated with it. Those who brandish this title are well known for their over-the-top flamboyance, their boisterous outspokenness, and their staunch devotion that wavers precariously on the brink of insanity. They're known to sleep on city sidewalks the night before a concert, to crash polling websites, to travel hundreds, even thousands, of miles to see him perform, to purchase multiple copies of one CD or DVD just for the extra song or the 10 seconds of bonus features, and to move mountains to get their hands on the tiniest piece of memorabelia from a newspaper or magazine.
Just how Adam inspires this crazy response is something that can't quite be described to someone who hasn't felt that allure. It's a reaction drawn from within, from hearing his voice for the first time, or stumbling across a gorgeous Lee Cherry photoshoot, or listening to his eloquent speech on a talk show. It's something to be felt, something to reciprocate, and something to share. It has the potential to unify people across boundaries and despite petty differences. It has the capacity for change, to evoke confidence, and to offer a place for enjoyment by all. It's for these reasons and so many more that Adam's fans are often thought of as the best fans.
This all sounds like a Utopia complete with rainbows and butterflies and music akin to "Greensleeves". But strip back the layers, delve deeper into the world of these people, and unfortunately, things are not what they appear. There is an ugly side to this fandom that has shown its face on more than one occasion.
Now I'm not condemning "Glamberts", the term nor the people called such. There's a potential for good here; we've all seen it in the way fans will buy tickets for someone who can't afford to go see Adam live, in the way albums and singles are gifted through iTunes, the way a Youtube video can be pieced together from fans all over the world. But often times, that good comes with a price, and one price is conformity.
Now you might think that's a ridiculous statement, seeing as how Adam got our attention by shattering the American Idol mold and rebuilding it around theatricality and talent. We love Adam because he is different, so how could it make any kind of sense that his fans can't be different?
Let me present you with a scenario:
We all know Adam's vocal potential. We know he could sing anything from Pagliacci to Frank Sinatra to Lady Gaga to Zeppelin to Aretha to Metallica. We know he can hit notes ranging from the off-the-chart wail of "Crawl Thru Fire" to the deep "Runnin" monotone. We know he can impregnate the women of the world with a steamy "Fever" or a smouldering "Broken English", and he can make us relive the darkest moments of our lives with a heartbreaking "Underneath".
It's fine to say you love Adam's music. Everyone nods in agreement when you say that "Trespassing" was the best pop album of 2012. The Lambert social circles welcome you with warm accolades if you say that "Sleepwalker" or "Shady" should have been singles and the label blew it by not releasing them. It's easy to get swept along in that tide.
But let's say that you believe, understandably, that Adam is better than his music. Maybe you believe that "Trespassing" was a blown opportunity vocally and artistically. Maybe you believe that Adam can make a bigger impact by creating music that isn't trying to fit onto Top 40 radio. Maybe you're just plain disappointed in Adam's efforts.
Here's where all hell breaks loose. Because in this world, you simply MUST
approve of everything Adam does. You MUST
think Adam is God's gift to the world and disagreeing with that is blasphemy. You MUST
keep your opinions to yourself. If you dare to break this mold, if you muster the courage to put your thoughts on Twitter or in a blog, if you have the audacity to say "this album sucks", you must face the wrath of the many: "You're not a real fan!"
Because, you see, being different is a scarlet letter. People might say they like something different, but think about it: if that something different is something uncomfortable, then it's out. It's unacceptable. And because people are born followers, the opinions and beliefs of the few but dominant who incite a mob behind them become the force that is to be fought against.
Granted, there are some cases where people are oversensitive, and others are overbearing. But I'm not talking about those situations. I'm talking about how sad it is that some people feel the need to berate and attack every little difference between themselves and someone else. They think they're being a good fan by supporting their beloved Adam. But in reality, all it's doing is pushing people away. More than once there have been cases where people have left the fandom because of bullying, the very thing Adam hates. Costing Adam fans certainly does not help at all, especially when fans need to have their voice heard in order for Adam to get the attention he deserves. Why not just walk away?
Here's another, much more uncomfortable and volitile scenario: I have seen and know for a fact that there are Adam Lambert fans, people who love his music, his voice, and his personality, who do not support gay marriage. Right away I know what most, if not all of you readers are thinking, that you CANNOT be a fan if you don't support this cause, because how could you want anything but unhappiness for Adam if that's the stance you take, or, more broadly, that you're prejudiced and are not an advocate of equal rights, that you hate gays, that you should die in a fire, etc.
Now, step away from the computer, breathe, compose yourself, and if you're ready to listen with an open mind and without hate and anger, come back and keep reading.
We constantly throw our hands up in frustration when we see Adam labeled as a "gay singer", "gay pop star", etc. Why? Because we know that people are thinking about the gay part first, when in reality they should think about the person, the talent, and the million other things about Adam that should get our attention. People say, "Isn't he gay?" and our first response is, "Yeah, and that matters why?" So why should we hate people who have done exactly what we wanted them to do in the first place? Wouldn't it make more sense to appreciate that they didn't pay attention to the label and saw for themselves the truth? There's an old saying that you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Few things are as off-putting as politics and religion; both tend to cause tensions to escalate alarmingly fast. How much better to attract people with the sweet honey of Adam's beautiful voice! (ok that was corny, yes, but you get the point) How much better to adopt the live-and-let-live mentality. People will always believe what they want to believe, and opposition can harden people and get them even further entrenched in their thinking just to prove a point. It's better to shrug, say, "ok, agree to disagree", and focus on what everyone does agree on.
I have a friend, someone that I met at an Adam Lambert show years ago, who has some very different thoughts and beliefs than I do. It would be easy for us to let this get in the way of our enjoyment over Adam, but instead, we have accepted these differences, and we respect the right we each have to have an opinion. Neither of us shove it down each other's throats, neither of us brings it up at every waking moment. When one of us posts or says something that the other disagrees with, we sort of brush past it, or ignore it completely. No harm, no foul. I like to think that we're the embodiment of Adam's mantra of overcoming differences and partying in the woods. We're proof that it is possible, that it can happen, and that no one needs to get hurt.
I know none of what I've said here will elicit change. I know I'm simply restating what's already been said to death. This is simply me voicing my anger and disappointment with people who should know better, people who are making what used to be a fun place a minefield to be carefully navigated. I believe Adam could have the best fans, if only they'd just grow up.