The XX Factor

The Queer and the Missionary Hold Hands on “American Idol”

It turns out Adam Lambert was too weird to win American Idol . Possibly gay, possibly Jewish (here’s a video of him singing in Hebrew !), definitely wearing nail polish, Lambert was too much of a challenge, as they say politely, to American notions of masculinity. There was no way he could stand up to cutie Kris Allen, a missionary with a crooked grin and a passel of blond relatives who all look like Reese Witherspoon.

One is tempted to grumble about homophobic Americans who can’t handle the new bi/queer/transgender reality. But here’s the kicker: “Guy next door” and “Guy-liner,” as they call them on the show, spent the whole finale loving on each other, swearing the other one should win, and promising to buy each other’s albums. When the winner was announced, Allen himself couldn’t believe it. “Adam deserves this,” he said, and gave him a big hug. Remember when Obama, in his Notre Dame speech , mentioned the gay activist and the evangelical preacher who just couldn’t bridge the cultural divide? They were enemies, but the radical thing was putting them in the same sentence, and so close together . Same thing last night.

There they stood, arm in arm, as enemies and friends. Allen looked tiny and wimpy and drained of confidence. Lambert looked like a graphic novel hero with his jet black anime hair and his big imposing figure in black leather and chains. It wasn’t in the end clear who was more manly, but it was clear that in that last hug there was no room for a cultural divide. National metaphor, maybe?