While American Idol's Adam Lambert has not said that he is gay, The New York Times illustrated this piece about his sexuality with pictures of David Bowie and Liberace. The headline calls him a "tease."

Lambert's dyed black hair, nail polish and eyeliner signify nothing in this Pete Wentz world, but what about the pictures of him dressed in drag, or cavorting with other boys at Burning Man, or the pictures in which he is french-kissing another man? These are speaking for him, while the Idol contestant says nothing.

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The question is: Does it matter? To Fox, to the Americans who vote for an Idol, to the record label that will eventually market him? Writes Guy Trebay for the Times:

Leave aside for a moment the answer to such a question, or even whether Mr. Lambert is gay. He may be. He may not. Fox, which owns "Idol," is not saying; neither is the contestant himself.

What is notable is the intensity of the insinuations caroming around the Internet and in certain corners of the mainstream press - that and the fact that even asking whether a gay contestant can win a broadly popular reality show, whose survivors are selected by public acclaim, seems increasingly anachronistic in light of decisions in Iowa and Vermont to extend marriage rights to gay men and lesbians.

The point of the piece seems to be that politics aside, Idol is about entertainment, and there have always been gender benders in entertainment. But eyeliner and heels don't make a man gay; being sexually attracted to other men makes a man gay. And you've got to wonder: Isn't America ready? Four years after Brokeback Mountain, the Internet is chock-full of pictures of emo boys kissing. Why? One site explains, "girls think it's hot." There are Japanese comics devoted to girls who like boys who like boys; there's even a video game for girls which involves gently washing girlish-boys with Adam Lambert haircuts. The point here is: Everyone seems to be worried about what Americans might think if Lambert is gay; no one seems to want to admit that if he is, Americans might like it. They might love it! We're cool with Lindsay and Sam; we've fully embraced Ellen and Portia; no one has problems with Lance Bass and Neil Patrick Harris is more popular than ever. Though Clay Aiken kept his sexuality hidden — possibly even from himself — Adam Lambert's theatrical, hip-swiveling performances on Idol and purring, come-hither camera-work hint that he's more in touch with the pleasures of the flesh. Is it fine for him to play coy? Or should the man known as Glambert go ahead and sing out, loud and proud?

American Idol's Big Tease [NY Times]