I was about 18 when I finally told my parents and friends, “Yeah, I’m gay.” I grew up in a liberal family, and they kind of went, “Yeah, no shit.” So when I moved to Los Angeles at 19, 20, I was very much living my life as an out gay man. By the time I did American Idol, I had been very gay for years. I guess I didn't realize I had to [publicly] label myself; I wasn't a celebrity yet, so I wasn't looking at myself from the outside. [Lambert didn't declare his sexuality until after Idol.]
I didn't get fully obsessed with Queen until I was in my early 20s, and Freddie was one of my heroes. Musically, I loved his attack: He was very aggressive and seemed in control of everything he was singing. Later, seeing some live performances [on video], it was also his stage presence, the way he was so over the top. I knew he meant to be campy and wild to entertain people. I identified with that in him very quickly.