“It was Halloween, and I was about nine years old, and I pulled a dress from the box of costumes in the attic. My mom’s Snow White costume from the year before; I figured that’s what I wanted to go tricking or tricking as. I thought: ‘Perfect! This will fit.’ I felt fabulous. My Dad was cool and open-minded. My mom was like, ‘Adam, you can’t go out in the neighbourhood like that! People won’t understand and they might be mean to you.’ She was coming from a place of love. I did get some weird looks, but I felt really good in that dress. It really cinched in my waist.
I knew around adolescence that I was a little different than these other kids. I knew around seventh grade –age 14 – even though I wasn’t hundred per cent sure. I also never had any experiences and I never confirmed anything. I went to high school and didn’t have any relationships, though I smooched a couple of girls to make sure. After I graduated high school, I came out to my three closest friends, and then came out to my parents shortly thereafter. That felt so much better. I was lucky because it was well received and my parents were like, ‘Yeah, we know’.
It felt like I had finally been able to let go of something; that was a relief. My little brother said: ‘Oh finally, I feel like I can really talk to you now. It felt like you weren’t being totally yourself, you weren’t being totally honest with who you were. Now I feel like your not hiding anything.’ It definitely improved my relationships.
I was lucky enough to move to Los Angeles after graduating school, and LA is – depending where you are hanging out – pretty chill. I was trying to pursue the entertainment career and was going to auditions; theatre, mostly. I thought that theatre would be my community, but sometimes you come across as too effeminate for a certain role. If it’s the thing that prevents you from getting the part, you begin to feel ashamed of that part of yourself. It’s so different now. The film, TV and music worlds have progressed a bit. There’s not so much fear, or shame.
Connectivity has changed things, too, because if you want to seek out likeminded people, you can. When I was part of the “It Gets Better” campaign, I said: ‘Go online, find people. You might be in a city where you’re the only queer person and it might suck. But use the tools you have at your disposal. Connect with people, talk about it.’
After American Idol, I was suddenly out of the bubble of the L.A. theatre world and the nightlife world, and put in front of the masses of middle America. All of a sudden, I was really experiencing real ignorances were for the first time. I received [homophobic] comments online, and there was pushback from the label because my first album cover was a little much. I did a performance on the American Music Awards where I kissed a guy – there was major controversy. I was told “You did a lot of damage to your career with that.” I stuck to my guns, though. I thought: ‘I’m not apologising. Fuck that.’”