Editor's note: A dance party planned for 8 p.m. on the Andy Warhol Bridge has been cancelled.
Thousands will be on the street for Pride this weekend, and leading the charge Saturday night, with one of the most powerful voices anywhere, will be Adam Lambert.
The flamboyant 2009 "American Idol" runner-up has become of one of the icons of the gay community since coming out in a Rolling Stone magazine cover story that year.
Mr. Lambert has the distinction of being the first openly gay artist to top the album charts, with his second album, "Trespassing," in 2012.
"I felt a bit surprised when I was told that actually, because I didn't think that was the case," he says. "I think it's a sign that things are changing, which is exciting. I think people can agree we're in a really pivotal time for gay rights, equality, just a lot of things shifting with the gay and lesbian community."
Asked it he were the first and last openly gay artist to top the chart, he says, "I don't know. I think Frank Ocean did well, but I don't know if he declared that he was openly gay -- which I totally respect that. I think everyone has their own prerogative to be however gay they want to be. We're in a real interesting position. We're kind of in between two different mindsets on the topic. There's one group and kind of one generation that feels like you need to wave the banner and be super proud and loud and in-your-face, and I respect that 100 percent. I feel like that's kind of a punk rock way of being gay, and then there's the next generation that kind of wants to treat it like a nonissue. It's a post-gay mentality, where it's like 'Oh yeah, so what?' I have respect for anybody, no matter how they want to play it."
Although he may have been reluctant at first, Mr. Lambert has become an activist and ambassador for the gay community. Along with the Pride events, he has done work with GLAAD and is the spokesman for the AT&T Live Proud campaign, encouraging people to share the time where they felt their pride moment. He also has done charity work to raise money to build fresh water wells in underdeveloped countries and with the program DonorsChoose to help raise money for public school arts programs.
"I feel like with celebrity and visibility and fame, there's a responsibility to try to give back and try to use the visibility for the greater good," he says. "It's not all about me. It's about trying to raise awareness and getting people to take action. I'm fortunate to have a really cool fan base and they want to be involved."
On the musical front, his rangy voice has given him the opportunity to step in for another gay icon, Freddie Mercury, in performing shows with Queen.
"It was crazy. I was so honored first of all that they wanted to work with me. Brian May and Roger Taylor are the coolest guys in the world."
And the Queen fans, of course, they had to be won over by a guy who won a TV competition.
"I think there was probably some doubt before the shows happened," he says. "I think there were some eyebrows raised from the Queen fans, but from what I could tell, I think they were into it. I wanted to make sure that people understood that I felt like I was trying to pay tribute to Freddie. There's no way to replace that guy. He's a legend, he's an icon. It was just exciting to get up there and do something that he would be proud of. Getting the stamp of approval from the band members was the first step for me in making sure I was doing it right."
In terms of his solo work, Mr. Lambert showed his glam-rock roots on his debut, which spawned the hit single, "What Do You Want From Me." He went in more of a dance-pop vein for the follow-up, which topped the charts without producing a big radio hit.
As for what direction the next one goes in, he says, "I do have an idea, but I'm not gonna tell ya." He doesn't have a timeline on it yet either.
Maybe the PrideFest show will offer a hint. He comes here having just done Miami Pride, where he says, "We had so much fun and the energy down there was awesome -- a lot of eye candy down there as well."
Having done a Pride event, he has a better sense of how it compares to one of his regular shows.
"My concerts are sort of like Pride events," he says. "I know that a lot of my fans are probably going to come out, so I don't think it's going to be that different. I'll be able perform for some people who wouldn't normally buy tickets to my regular shows, and it's great to be able to expand the audience. But it's going to be the same kind of thing. I am who I am no matter where I am, So we're going to do it right."
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2576. First Published June 13, 2013 4:00 AM