Multi-platinum singer and Queen frontman, Adam Lambert tells Queerly all about his new documentary, “Adam Lambert: Out, Loud and Proud” which explores the journey of British LGBTQ+ artists who have fought for their place in the music industry.

Through interviews with Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor on Freddie Mercury, intimate conversations with Andy Bell of Erasure, Skin from Skunk Anansie, and pop icon MNEK, Lambert reveals the groundbreaking stories of these artists. The documentary also features Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, highlighting the ongoing struggles of the trans community today.

“Adam Lambert: Out, Loud and Proud” celebrates the resilience and revolutionary spirit of LGBTQ+ artists who have shaped the music world while fighting for equality and Adam sat down for a chat to tell us more:

Tell us a bit about how this hugely important project came to fruition?

It was an idea that I wanted to explore, looking at the lives and history of queer musicians inthe UK, particularly looking at our journey as a community towards equality and visibility but to do it through music and the lives of queer musicians. I’ve seen a lot of documentaries and TV specials about queer actors in the film and TV industry, because that was one of the first steps in visibility. I think now the music industry ischanging so rapidly and you’re seeing more and more musicians represent all these different identities in the umbrella rainbow that is the LGBTQ+ community. I thought to myself, ‘I haven’t seen a comprehensive look at the history of queer musicians’ and ‘I thought okay, maybe I should make one?’. I started talking with ITV and we had an amazing first meeting and it was really exciting, and that’s how it came to be.

Tell us what Adam Lambert: Out, Loud and Proud is all about?

It’s a look at the last 40 – 50 years of pop culture in the UK, particularly the musicians that have trail-blazed into our current times, in regards to queer representation. It’s still something that we’re working towards and there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of equality. But it is getting better and it’s really fun to look back at where it started and how things have changed. Even in today’s world there are challenges that come up but looking back at history, putting it into a retrospective gives you hope and makes you realise that positive strides have been made. There’s a lot of challenges still and a lot of setbacks that we face as a community but if you compare where we’re at now to where we were at in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s, you realise things have gotten better. That’s exciting to me, being able to bring a
positive outcome in this programme is very exciting.

LGBTQ+ artists all over the world have faced huge challenges, but what was it about the UK specifically that resonated for this project?

It’s funny because I feel like the UK in many ways is almost a little ahead of the US in terms of acceptance and visibility. For me, being an artist that came from a TV competition show and then coming out, I was the first one to do it on American Idol – but the UK had Will Young maybe 10 years prior, so we’re offset by like a decade. It’s fun for me to look at this through an UK lense, if I think about iconic queer musicians the first ones that come to mind are almost all UK artists – Elton, Freddie, Bowie, Boy George – these are queer men for example, but it all started from British artists so for me coming up and realising my dream of wanting to be an artist on stage – a singer outside of musical theatre – those were my touchstones and that felt like a really exciting place to dig into.

You have a very special relationship with the UK with Queen – tell us a bit about what that’s like and how it’s grown/evolved over the years?

I’ve spent so much time in London and working in the media, singing for Queen and getting to know the Queen family and the fans and touring the country doing interviews on TV about that and my own projects. I feel like I’m an adopted step child of the UK at this point, I love it and have soaked up so much pop culture in the UK, so it seemed like a natural thing to want to explore, even as an outsider to look at it objectively, that felt really interesting. Queen and I have been working together for over a decade, I sang their song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ as my audition song for American Idol so I think that’s how the dots connected. It’s been an incredible honour to carry on the legacy of Queen as an act of service to Brian May and Roger Taylor, to be able to facilitate them getting on stage and play their hits and to carry the mantle for Freddie, who was so sadly taken from all of us from the AIDS virus. If he was still alive today, I’m sure that he’d still be doing it with them so it’s bittersweet but I am grateful for the opportunity. I always try to honour Freddie, everything I do on stage is a tribute to him through my own vessel. What’s really exciting for me with this documentary is being able to chat with Brian and Roger about Freddie. It was really nice to have that safe space and I’m really honoured they felt comfortable with me and open to talk about their experience with Freddie and his experience as a queer man in a time where it was a taboo thing to talk about publicly. I really love that they trusted me with that conversation. I’m really honoured that they wanted to chat with me about it.

Some incredible fellow artists and collaborators are featured in the documentary – what was it like filming with them and hearing their stories?

I was definitely aware of Andy from Erasure and Skin from Skunk Anansie a fair amount, but it was great getting to talk to both of them because I didn’t know that much about them – so what you’re getting in that interview with me is a real curiosity. They represent respectively two different decades – when they were still fighting to be seen, it was still very much an unknown at that point – especially in Andy’s interview. In the 80’s with AIDS rearing its ugly head, it was a very tricky time and the fact that he was out there in front being super camp and successful at the same time, that was such a statement and such a ray of light for the community. To see Skin’s experience looking at the 90’s where things were so quickly pivoting – everything was in shift at that point and not only is she a queer woman, but a woman of colour in a genre where it wasn’t associated with people of colour – she’s a trail-blazer that checks like seven boxes at once, which is really cool. Getting to speak to MNEK was really lovely, he’s a friend and someone that I have a lot of respect for. We’ve been existing in pop around the same time and I remember the first time I heard him on the Radio 1 thought, ‘Wow he can sing!’ Even through the 2010’s, most of the other queer artists on the scene tended to be from the UK that were in a mainstream position having success in the charts and on radio. MNEK, Olly Alexander, Sam Smith are great examples. Kim Petras is a US based artist, she’s found success too and it’s exciting. The one other American artist that I got to speak to is MJ Rodriguez who has had so much success with her work on Pose and she’s on Loot, which is a great show. She is such a light and to be able to speak to her as a way to look forward to what’s next. The Trans community is under attack left right and centre from the media and public, and to see someone who is so bravely shining for exactly who they are is super inspiring.

The thread that ties these artists together is their fight or support for LGBTQ+ rights throughout their careers – which echoes your own – was it important that the audience hear from a range of diverse queer voices?

Yes – in order to paint a comprehensive picture of our community it was really important to speak to everyone we did to show the full rainbow – the full spectrum of different types of artists from different backgrounds, identities and genders.
The biggest challenge we face is homophobia and it is rooted in ignorance. Meaning it’s what people don’t know that makes them reject and hate the community. I think my motive for wanting to create this documentary was to try to show something that people might not have known. That’s the first step in combating homophobia – information, education and visibility. This show is a great way to take a closer look at a journey that you may not be familiar with, if you aren’t a member of the community and if you are, it’s also a lovely way to be proud of all that we are and where we’ve come from.

How did you find the filming process?

It was amazing – it was really exciting as I genuinely get really passionate talking about our history and our experience. The way in which a lot of us are able to bond and support each other is through our shared experiences. It’s really exciting to be able to sit down and chat – some of them went hours longer, there’s so much footage because I just wouldn’t shut up!

Was there a day during filming or a particular moment that really stood out for you?

I think getting to sit down with Brian and Roger was really special, because we’ve had so many of these conversations in private. To be able to capture some of it for the cameras and share with the public is really cool. I’ve gotten to know Brian and Roger over the last decade, they are such lovely human beings and allies. They’ve always supported and loved Freddie, and they knew about who Freddie was from day one and they loved him unconditionally. It’s exciting to get their version of events and to hear how it affected them, how they can see how it affected Freddie. They’re one of the biggest bands in the entire world and Freddie is one of the most beloved rock stars ever and to get their take on what it was like for him and them as a group is really interesting, I think the public will find it fascinating.

Did anything surprise you during the filming process?

In every interview there were surprises – things I hadn’t thought about before – little behind the scenes stories and interesting tales. I think that’s the exciting thing about being the interviewer. It’s funny because I have been interviewed so much over the years and especially in the beginning when I started my career, because there weren’t a tonne of queer artists. A lot of what I was doing was explaining myself to journalists, so to turn the tables and get to be the interviewer was really interesting. It was fun, I loved it!

Why is it important that the show is being made now and why should ITV audiences tune in?

It’s coming out just in time for pride season which is exciting. This is a time of year where we as a community get to step out and celebrate each other. There’s always the negative or haters out there – wanting a straight pride and I always roll my eyes at that because straight people have not been oppressed because of their straightness. The queer community deserves the spotlight all year round, but especially during this time of year. We have been vilified and prosecuted just for being who we are since the dawn of time. There have been moments where it’s been better and worse, if we were in Ancient Greece no one would care! I think we are moving forward and there’s a lot of progress that has been made, but it’s never a straight line and the pendulum swings back and forth. You can see that particularly with the Trans community right now. There are laws being passed and conversations and voices that are being given the spotlight that are voices of hate and negativity. The only way we can combat that is by shining brighter and brighter and being proud of who we are, that’s how we move forward. I think that’s why this show is so timely.

It’s airing during Pride Month – how will you be celebrating this year?

I have new music coming out which is very much a reflection of my experience in the LGBTQ+ community. I have been working with Queen for so many years – as an adopted member of the band and have performed for that fanbase for a long time – being able to release music that is a reflection of my authentic life, my social life, love life, friends and community and my existence within it is really exciting. One of the things as a queer artist you have to find your peace with is there’s a weird balance between personal integrity and authenticity. Wanting to be successful and winning at the game that is the music industry – like any business, it’s a bit of a game. That balance has shifted frantically over the last 15 years – there were points early on where in order to continue to have a platform to be myself and to dare to be a queer artist, there were certain compromises I had to make. What’s exciting about now in 2024 is that there is a space for everybody.

What does ‘Out, Loud and Proud’ as a sentiment mean to you?

At one point coming out was this act of defiance – a rebellion – it was about owning who you were and fighting against oppression, I think that narrative has changed as well. A lot of what the young generation are saying is, ‘Well I don’t have to declare that I’m straight, so why do I declare that I’m gay?” It’s slowly becoming an afterthought, which is a beautiful progress. The community right now says everyone has a sexuality and a gender, there’s a whole range of what that looks like and there’s a place for all of those different identities. We are able now, because of all the work that’s been done by previous generations, to just be. Certain artists are coming out now and it’s not a big deal. Billie Eilish came out as being attracted to women and it felt like no one really batted an eyelash. I think that is a perfect example of the progress that’s been made. An artist at her level with the success she’s had and accolades that she has been given, 10 years ago that would have been a big fuss – people would be upset, the media would have gone crazy. The fact that it’s a side note and people are still focused on her as an artist and a musician – that is progress.

What do you hope audiences will take away from watching the show?

I hope that audiences learn something, just like I learned something, by talking to these amazing people. It’s super interesting to understand someone else’s experience. It makes you a more empathetic, understanding human being. The goal is to open minds and offer a different look at something they thought they knew. The more we learn, the more we accept and the more we find love in our hearts for each other.

Describe the doc in 3 words…

Out, loud and proud!! It’s also fascinating, inspiring and I think it’s hopeful.

Are there any other projects you’re working on at the moment that you’re able to share?

I have a new EP coming out called ‘Afters’, which is a new project to make you get up and move and sweat. I have a lot going on and I am very excited. I feel really inspired and in a really good place as a human and as a creative person. I’ve faced my own self sabotage in the past and have worked through that, and I’m in a place now where I’m allowing myself to create and be free. I have some incredible projects on the horizon, it’s going to be a great year!

Adam Lambert: Out, Loud and Proud is a powerful tribute to the resilience and revolutionary spirit of LGBTQ+ artists who have transformed the music world while fighting for equality. You can stream the documentary on ITVX or watch on ITV1 from 9pm on Wednesday 19th June 2024.