Lambert sat down early last month to do an interview with Out writer Shana Naomi Krochmal for the magazine’s annual “Out 100” cover feature, which profiles the people (gay and straight) currently making the biggest impact on the LGBT community. Others pictured on the issue’s cover include comedian Wanda Sykes, singer Cyndi Lauper, producer Rob Marshall and Iraq War vet and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” opponent Dan Choi.

The interview marked the first time the singer had officially graced the pages of the influential publication. And given the outcome of his first visit with the staff at Out, it might just be the last.

According to an open letter written by Krochmal about the fracas, the first sign of trouble came when she arrived at the offices of Lambert’s label.

“Despite plenty of back and forth between the magazine and the label about the cover and the photo shoot, I still wasn’t prepared for what happened when I showed up at the 19 Entertainment offices for the interview,” Krochmal explained.

“I briefly met Adam, and then the publicist and I walked out to the balcony, at which point I was cautioned against making the interview ‘too gay,’ or ‘you know, gay-gay.’ Specifically I was discouraged from asking about the March on Washington that upcoming weekend or other political topics.”

Okay, let me just interject for a moment here. As a writer who has done dozens of interviews with artists both big and small (plus their managers and agents), I can say that there have been numerous times when a publicist or handler has inquired about the nature of the interview. And, on rare occasions, I have even been asked to submit questions in advance.

Since Pollstar isn’t exactly known for its hard-hitting stance, I’ve been quite puzzled by both requests. While I have consented to discussing the general tone of the piece beforehand, I have steadfastly refused to submit questions. This is because in my experience an interview is far more interesting when it’s candid and is a conversation between two people – not an inquisition. (This is not “60 Minutes” and I’m not Mike Wallace.)

If I ever encountered an artist like Lambert who has made a concerted effort to make his sexuality public and was told flat out that certain topics – like gay rights – were off limits, I, like Krochmal and her editors at Out, would definitely take offense. However, even though I can’t say for certain, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t respond by publicly attacking the artist.

(By the way, what exactly is “too gay”? That’s absurd. There is no such thing. You’re gay or you’re not. It’s like saying someone is (with apologies to the Monty Python gang) “mostly dead.”)

Back to Krochmal’s story: The writer said she took pains to explain the difference between Out, a lifestyle and fashion magazine, and its sister publication Advocate, which is much more news and politics oriented, but made no promises about where the interview might go.

“It was pretty awkward, as if we were discussing two totally different people – an Adam who doesn’t seem to have any real filter when talking about his life or his opinions, and an Adam who could sometime be contained, made safe for mainstream America,” Krochmal said.

“I still wish I’d been more surprised when I was met with such a ludicrous and offensive request. I am a journalist. I ask questions. Out is a magazine whose primary audience is gay men. Is anyone confused about that? I’ve been doing this a long time and though I’ve been generically warned in a similar fashion before – ‘let’s make it upbeat and fun!’ reps often say, or ‘just talk about the album/movie/TV show!’ – it’s never been quite so egregious or with such an obvious expectation that I would comply.”

If Krochmal was angry about the incident, Out Editor in Chief Aaron Hicklin was off the charts. Hicklin fired off his own open letter to Lambert in which he praises the singer for “playing by his own rules” and refusing to let his “sexuality be a barrier to success” and then lambasts him and his handlers for what he obviously sees as their recent hypocritical behavior.

“We’re curious whether you know that we made cover offers to you before ‘American Idol’ was even halfway through its run. Apparently Out was too gay, even for you. There was the issue of what it would do to your record sales, we were told. Imagine! A gay musician on the cover of a gay magazine. What might the parents think! It’s only because this cover is a group shot that includes a straight woman that your team would allow you to be photographed at all – albeit with the caveat that we must avoid making you look ‘too gay.’ (Is that a medical term? Just curious.) Luckily, you seemed unaware that a similar caution was issued to our interviewer.”

Hicklin goes on to ponder if the cover might have been more acceptable to the label if Lambert and Lauper were shown making out like in a recent Details photo spread, which the editor points out featured the singer “awkwardly grabbing a woman’s breast and saying, ‘Women are pretty.’”

Criticism also goes to the author of the Details piece for creating an article that would lead the public to believe Lambert’s “entire fan base was made up of women and heterosexual men, or ‘straight dudes’ as the writer describes them” and fails to mention the singer’s gay fans at all.

And Lambert’s response to all of this? He took to his Twitter account Tuesday to tell Hicklin and company to “Chill!” and suggest that they “refrain from projecting your publication’s agenda onto my career.”

While Hicklin raises some valid points in his letter, the overall tone comes across as undeniably bitchy. I think perhaps a better way to handle the incident would have been to include an intro to the interview piece calmly describing the “conditions” under which it was conducted. That way, readers wondering why certain topics weren’t addressed would be left to draw their own conclusions about Lambert and his agenda.

That being said, after re-reading Krochmal’s interview with the singer – which is extremely lengthy and wandering and is broken down into two parts – I’m left wondering if this whole thing doesn’t come down to some kind of image game being played by Lambert and his handlers.

Aside from the Details piece, which I’ll admit I too found a pretty odd way for a self-professed “out and proud” gay man to allow himself to be depicted, there’s this statement:

“What’s funny is that in the ’70s a lot of the glam artists – like Bowie, T. Rex, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, KISS – they were gender bending with their image, but most of them were pretty hetero. Even though they looked really flamboyant. Bowie was the one guy that kind of made you wonder. But he was straight, right? … At the heart of it, the question was, ‘Are they gay?’ And I think it would be kind of fun to toy with the imagery of, ‘Is he gay’ but the other way around.”

So it seems what might going on here is simply a sales pitch – a cynical marketing campaign aimed at selling as many records as possible to goo-goo-eyed middle-American housewives fantasizing about Lambert.

Besides that unwitting admission, there are a couple of other interesting things that come up in the Out interview that I think need to be addressed.

After telling Krochmar that he just happens to “be a gay man – and I’m not ashamed of that at all,” and discussing spending time with his boyfriend, the singer says (without a hint of irony, mind you), “One of the things that I don’t like about the gay community is that people define themselves by their sexuality – and that’s bullshit. It shouldn’t be about that.”

If that’s the case, why did Lambert feel the need to do a big cover spread for Rolling Stone – complete with provocative photos – to publicly out himself? And why keep talking about it at all, if it’s not germane to the conversation?

The singer goes on to criticize the gay community’s “outdated” attempts to segregate itself, an accusation which I, as a 44-year-old out gay man, find to be patently ridiculous. (Okay, soapbox moment coming up here.) If there’s any segregating going on, it’s coming from the other side, like it always has.

I have to say that I like Adam Lambert and I thoroughly enjoy his debut album. I’m thrilled that he’s been able to achieve as much success as he has to this point and I’m hoping he’ll have a long career. But at 27 years old, I hardly think the singer qualifies as an expert on the history of the struggle for rights and acceptance faced by the gay community and does himself a disservice by pretending to be.

What he apparently fails to realize is that if it weren’t for the brave men and women who came before him who defiantly made their sexuality a part of their identity despite the costs, there would be no Adam Lambert, rising pop star.

Read part one of Adam Lambert’s Out interview here and part two here.

Read Aaron Hicklin’s open letter to Adam Lambert here.

Read Shana Naomi Krochmal’s open letter about her experience with Lambert and his label here.