Since breaking out on American Idol in 2009 and finishing second, Lambert's profile rose quickly. And though he had already come out as gay years before, he was now faced with doing it to public scrutiny — which he did with a Rolling Stone cover story. In a new cover story for Out, the pop star said there hadn't been many openly gay performers who came before him, from whom he could have found guidance.
"At that time, how many mainstream music artists did we have that were out?" he said in the article. "Elton John and George Michael -- and his whole coming out was tabloid fun. There hadn't been a blueprint to follow. That was the one thing I wished I'd had: a little more guidance. There were definitely moments of frustration and pressure, but there's been a lot of goodwill as well, a lot of support from fans and media people, and it's balanced out. I don't have any sort of bitterness about it."
Even the late Freddie Mercury, whose role in Queen he's filled on recent tours, is now remembered as being gay -- but while he was alive, the public mostly just turned a blind eye, said Lambert.
Adam Lambert Aiming for Third Top 10 Album on Billboard 200 Chart
"I've heard nothing but incredible stories about him," he said of the Queen frontman. "From what I gathered, he seemed like a really sweet guy, actually — and a bit shy socially. I would have loved to meet him.... Technically, he wasn't really closeted. I mean, he did interviews early on where they were like, 'Are you gay?' and he was like, 'Oh, yeah, gay as a daffodil, darling.' But nobody really believed it because they didn't want to. It was so taboo at that time that people didn't actually think he would have been."
As for Lambert's new, toned down look. He said, "I just generally grew out of that old look and enjoyed new ones — it's as simple as that. There's also a point where I was working really hard to achieve a look that I was really into, and it was really fun and I wanted to stand out and be crazy and be weird and make a statement with the stuff I was wearing. I look back on some of those red carpet looks, and I'm like, What were you thinking?"
"Six years is a while," he added, "and now I'm in a new space and time in my life, and I'm hoping that my music and my image all match where I'm at."
Read the full interview here.