GLAAD Backs ABC in Adam Lambert Controversy, but Wants to Know What ‘Caught Off Guard’ Means

GLAAD issued a a couple of awkward statements late yesterday siding with ABC on the Adam Lambert controversy.

Lambertcrotch ABC's statement to GLAAD: "Given the live nature of the American Music Awards, Adam Lambert’s performance, which differed greatly from his rehearsal, caught many, including the network, off guard. This is not a question of Lambert’s sexual orientation. As is evidenced by GLAAD’s media report card, ABC is at the forefront of positive gay and lesbian portrayal on television. We welcome openly gay performers and look forward to continuing our great work within the LGBT community."

Said GLAAD President Jarret Barrios: "It would appear that the kiss between Adam Lambert and his keyboardist did not factor into ABC’s decision. ABC has a history of positive gay and transgender inclusion that includes featuring kisses between gay and lesbian couples on-air. We applaud the visibility of openly gay performers and congratulate Adam Lambert for sharing his story on the Ellen DeGeneres Show this week as well as his upcoming appearance on The Jay Leno Show."

Later, GLAAD added a clarification it said was in response to some media outlets taking the statement out of context:

"Since his American Music Awards performance occurred GLAAD has consistently advocated that Adam Lambert and openly gay artists not be held to a double standard. As we have expressed publicly, it is disappointing that ABC will not give Lambert a chance to perform at this time. GLAAD’s discussions with ABC focused on confirming that his sexual orientation was not a factor in their decisions. ABC confirmed this is not about a same-sex kiss or his sexual orientation but about being 'caught off guard.' GLAAD asked ABC and calls on them for clarification on 'caught off guard' so that the community knows why Lambert is being denied the opportunity to perform on the network."

Double Standard: CBS Early Show Blurs Adam Lambert Gay Kiss, Then Shows Britney-Madonna Kiss Moments Later [tr]


  1. says

    GLAAD has disappointed me. I was never really certain what the purpose of GLAAD was, but now I can see that they can be as useless and as counterproductive to progress as HRC. Thanks for nothing. As far as I am concerned, they put out a PR statement designed to spin ABC’s foolish decision into a reasonable reaction under the circumstances. Very disappointing. There is no excuse for GLAAD making excuses for ABC. Protect US from defamation, GLAAD, not the network. Don’t bother asking me to buy a ticket to your next “awards” show.

  2. says

    And I have some Nevada coastline to sell GLAAD.

    Could their statements be any more generic or meaningless? Are they incapable of analyzing the media in any sort of sophisticated way to see the obvious double standards at the root of ABC’s and CBS’s recent responses to Adam? GLAAD is useless, but Adam will do just fine without them and ABC–he’s probably helped by the continuing ABC snub.

  3. says

    There comes a time when being so “PC” and “nice” works against you and we ARE THERE. All our organizations that are the “figureheads” GLADD doesn’t want to ruffle feathers obviously and is willing to let an OBVIOUS Double standard against Gay Men go unchallanged. I was in MA when Jarret Barrios was in office. When Gay Marriage started to get rough instead of fighting 100 percent he went off onto legislature about how his kid was being served FLUFFERNUTTERS in school. TOTAL WASTE.

    I wanna know what GLAAD is going to say or do about Buju Banton getting a Grammy Award Nomination. Nothing forceful I am sure.

  4. Mike says

    Can we possibly be more impotent? It’s so fricken’ obvious this is a double standard it is ridiculous! There is even volumes of evidence to back it up. ABC is responding with sound bites and spin and here comes GLAAD giving them a pass. What is wrong with us! ABC has made a calculation that this won’t affect their bottom line, we should prove them wrong!

  5. says

    no crispy, it’s ok to be gay on television as long as you are a well defined stereotypical caricature as conceived by the overwhelmingly homophobic popular culture norms. As long as you are a lisping drama queen, or a hairdresser, or an interior designer, no problem. That way the straights get to pigeon hole us AND feel like they’ve overcome their bigotry. Images of a rock star with an overt sexuality are strictly relegated to macho straight types or women with fake breasts dressed up like school girls. Got it? GLAAD sucks.

  6. maxx40 says

    Dear Mr. Ferraro: I am disappointed by GLAAD’s analysis of ABC’s cancellation of Adam Lambert’s future appearances on its network and its public castigation of Mr. Lambert. This deserves a richer response than what GLAAD has so far offered. The “double standard” is not about sexual orientation as much as it is about gender. Arguably, TV programming and how that audience identifies with that programming is predominantly (hetero) male-centered. There’s a good reason why the women performers are given a pass for the expression of sexuality (Shakira and dancers’ pelvic thrusts, which went on for at least thirty seconds; Janet’s grabbing the crotch of a male dancer; JLo using male bodies as steps to climb) as they can be fit nicely into male-centered culture, where women are to be looked at, and performances, however sexually empowering for women and others, can still be appropriated by patriarchy, where women still are equated with sexuality. This is why Madonna and Britney’s kiss at an MTV awards show was not attacked. It was not a revolutionary act of lesbian expression so much as a way to play with the codes of patriarchy in order to create “shocking” art. Lambert, as a man, upsets patriarchal codes by offering his sexuality as a performance to be consumed, by stepping outside of gender norms (leather plus glam), and basically constructing his audience as gay male. This kind of power is what ABC fears. (Note also how ABC’s track record on gay and lesbian characters do not upset patriarchal norms. All the gay men on on Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives, and Modern Family look like upstanding, professional, middle class men and so all we can assume is that gay men who have assimilated to the suburban ethos are “masculine,” and thus “good.” Even Ugly Betty’s Mark, who might be the one urban gay male on ABC, fulfills “feminine” norms according to patriarchal culture–utterly powerless at Mode (which is strange as the fashion industry has been known to encourage powerful gay men), he must attach himself to the wicked Wilhemina to have any footing. Diversity of representation on television, which I understand as part of GLAAD’s mission, does not need to stop at the inclusion of LGBT characters amid straight-identified ones but might move toward a diversity of LGBT realities, from assimilationist to revolutionary. At the very least, GLAAD might make more transparent its political standpoint. In GLAAD’s mission statement, it says: “And we have a responsibility to make sure that those images foster awareness, understanding and respect.” This imagines political life as a public sphere where civility rules the day, as well as a “free market” where we all can enter, at the very least as consumers. This may work if everyone participating in political life is the same (white, male, professional) but the LGBT community is simply not this monolithic. Where, for instance, are images of working-class LGBTers on TV, or LGBTers who are not of primarily European descent? The time for asking to sit at the table (that we helped to build and decorate) has passed.

    Thanks for listening.
    Chael Needle

  7. says

    Soooooooo, we can be gay as long as no one sees or hears us, right? After all gay sexuality is so icky (unless it’s women then it’s fucking hot apparently). God forbid anyone in the general public sees it, especially the children!

    Fuck ABC. I’d say fuck GLAAD too but it seems like ABC got there first. Pathetic response from a useless organization.

  8. Ross76 says

    GLAAD is beyond worthless. Rather than really calling people on the carpet and going after them and REALLY trying to hurt their opponents (like right-wing Christians are masters of), they issue these mamby-pamby statements that don’t amount to a sack of shit, making sure that they won’t alienate anyone famous who will come to their celebrity-whore awards show. The blackballing of Lambert is pure, plain homophobia and caving in to right-wing pressure, nothing more. He has now been cancelled from THREE shows, all because of a simulated blow job (which Pink got away with 4 years ago) and a kiss.

    I don’t care if the gay community does or does not like Lambert’s music. If we can’t stand together behind this guy at a time like this, there’s no hope at all for out male performers. Hell, we would do the same for Kathy Griffin, Margaret Cho, or freaking Cher. We should support Lambert and make him a superstar. He has the talent – if he doesn’t make it huge, it’s allowing idiots like ABC to keep yet another gay man in his “place.”

  9. says

    GLAAD clearly missed an opportunity here. Jaret Barrios couldn’t possibly be so naive as to not know the politics of same-sex, specifically man-on-man, public kissing. The response here was obviously politically expedient, all the more unfortunate given the current context in which lack of hard-hitting critique amounts to complicity with the deferral (and worse) of key issues at stake for GLBTQ communities.

  10. steve says


    I think there are more important battles to fight right now

    I fully support his right to act like every other trashy pop diva on national tv

    but this seems like some sort of ridiculous horse race to the lowest common denominator

    at this point in history, we ARE held to a higher standard & it sucks goats nuts, but that’s the way it is

    ultimately, Lambert gave middle America exactly what it wanted – a gay minstrel show so it could justify all its apprehensions, fears & phobias

    the battles he picks & chooses are his own, but as a gay man, I’m not going to waste energy getting “outraged” over counterproductive causes

    he’s #3 on Billboard right now, so I’m not really feeling the pangs of injustice

    right now my thoughts are in New York & with all the wounded warriors who stuck their necks out there – those are the true heroes of the moment imho

  11. Hawk says

    “Adam Lambert’s performance, which differed greatly from his rehearsal, caught many, including the network, off guard. ”

    Um, greatly??? Really, even the censers stated that the guy got close to his crotch but did not touch… but live actually touched… How in the hell is that greatly???

    Dry humming the other guy on stage would differed greatly from the rehearsals… not an inch or two or even few inches of movement.

    Greatly?, only thing all agree on is the kiss was the changed from the rehearsals… and they are saying that did not factor into it… though everyone blurred it afterwords. But show the female/female kiss right after (because people are used to that image). People are used to it cause people were showing the images.

    GLAAD is now on my list to not donate too…

    @Maxx40 – great letter. think I should write one as well, and explain why they are off my list of donations.

  12. says

    4 years ago? Madonna was rolling around the stage performing stimulated sex acts and masturbation on TV over 25 years ago. You’re absoultely right, this is nothing but pure homophobia, and GLAAD’s reaction is shameful.

  13. chris says

    F**K YOU GLADD! go back in the closet- dance in the ghettos- and GOD forbid- don’t even think of getting married- people, we are third class freaks- welcome to america

  14. Paul says

    We all need to support and back Adam…Why? Because he has the courage to stand up and be GAY in front of everyone!! He did it before Idol was over and he doesn’t hold back now!!
    He is an incredible talent and a hero!!

  15. styleboy says

    I can’t wait for the next time someone calls me from GLAAD to contribute, which they often do because I gave some money in the past. I can’t believe they took this stance but I guess they didn’t want to lose those ABC tables at the Media Awards.

  16. Lisa says

    What is going to happen next year when Adam is the winner of all of the music awards? Has there ever been an instance where the winner was banned from attending the awards show?

  17. Bill says

    Once again a gay activist/ gay organization that doesn’t work for gay people. The status quo for gay people is being subservient, docile and perpetually disadvantaged. GLAAD did did that with their agreeable response to ABC’s cancellations of Adam’s performances.

    I totally support Adam. No one would still be talking about this performance had it been done by a heterosexual male or female. The reaction against him has been totally generated from anti-gay bigotry. I completely agree with you Paul, Adam has the courage to stand up and be GAY.

  18. JLM says

    GLAAD got paid off – is that what they are saying??? Geez Adam is out there on his own and all I can say is thank god the guy has balls of steel. He is absolutely calm under fire and I am not going to stop writing ABC, FCC and GLAAD until they stop harrassing him!! Adam is amazing and I respect him no end for not apologizing and sticking to his guns but being ever gracious. Congrats on the album Adam, it rocks!!

  19. rjp3 says

    Maybe if Adam had not broken the rules and shoved people’s faces into his crotch without telling anyone – then flipping off the audience – ABC would not have been upset.

    It is not that he is a homosexual – it was his unprofessional behavior.

    GLAAD’s statement made sense and understood that.

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