As any good model can tell you, it is not wise to piss off the gays who are about to dress you up fancy, put makeup on you, do your hair, and then take pictures of you. Because if you do piss them off, bad things happen. Usually, it comes in the retouching phase (for example, we happen to know for a fact that this happened shortly after Gwyneth Paltrow admitted that The Talented Mr. Ripley was her least favorite of her movies). But in the case of Out magazine and Adam Lambert, whom they put on the cover of their annual Out 100 issue, the problem came in the negotiation phase. Editor Aaron Hicklin aired his grievances in his editor's essay for this month, which he turned into an open letter to Lambert.
See, the problem was, Out had been pressured, apparently repeatedly, not to make Adam look or sound "too gay." This, as Lambert's publicist should have known, set the gays ablaze. From Hicklin's letter:
We’re curious whether you know that we made cover offers for you before American Idol was even halfway through its run. Apparently, Out was too gay, even for you. There was the issue of what it would do to your record sales, we were told. Imagine! A gay musician on the cover of a gay magazine. What might the parents think! It’s only because this cover is a group shot that includes a straight woman that your team would allow you to be photographed at all — albeit with the caveat that we must avoid making you look “too gay.” (Is that a medical term? Just curious.) Luckily, you seemed unaware that a similar caution was issued to our interviewer.
Perhaps we should have had you and Cyndi in a tongue lock. That would be radical. It’s odd, because this magazine has done covers with Pete Wentz and Lady Gaga — getting straight men and women to do Out is easy these days. It gives them cred. Getting gay stars like yourself is another matter. Much easier to stick you in Details, where your homosexuality can be neutralized by having you awkwardly grabbing a woman’s breast and saying, “Women are pretty.” So are kittens, Adam, but it doesn’t mean you have to make out with them.
There's more invective on Out's website, plus an explanation of what happened by the story's writer. It's a bold move by Hicklin, who has pulled up clever publicity stunts in tandem with his big issues before — remember when he put "Anderson Cooper and Jodie Foster" on the cover of their "Power 50" issue? On the one hand, picking a fight with a major celebrity is great for getting attention. On the other hand, severing a relationship with one of America's most mainstream openly gay performers may come around to haunt the magazine in the future. Either way, he's on pretty firm footing with his complaint. And a word to Adam: A publicist that sloppy can hurt a star's career far worse than one bad magazine cover can.
Dear Adam [Out.com]