An open letter to Kris Allen

Dear Kris:

I know.  Who cares what I think.  But I wanted to congratulate you on winning American Idol.  The look on your face when you won was priceless.  And how great it must be to have a friend like Adam Lambert close by who was obviously and genuinely happy for you.

I first noticed you when I checked in on American Idol right before the time of the final 13.  I picked you as the winner back then.  I don’t know exactly what it was.  For the first time this year, I actually went to iTunes and downloaded American Idol music and it was yours that I downloaded.  I actually have “Falling Slowly” and “To make you feel by love” on a CD in my car right now and play it quite often.  I must admit, as a gay man, I thought you were adorable.  Your kind and gentle soul was evident even through your shyness.  I often thought you were the kind of guy I could take home to my family and they would love you too.  So I have to be honest and say that I totally have a crush on you.  But why wouldn’t I.  Or anyone else for that matter.

That’s part of the package, you know.  Both women and gay men will think you are adorable and be vocal about it.  Speaking for myself, I would never cross the line and maul you if I saw you in person.  But you sort of have to get used to that kind of attention whether or not it is welcomed.  Gay men are fans too.

You have been blessed with beauty and grace.  You have been blessed with talent.  And most of all you have been blessed with a warm and loving family.  I envy the bear hug you got from your father on your visit home.  That is something that I never had from either parent, even though I grew up having both parents. My father died when I was 19 years old, before I was officially “out”.  As a result I have so many unanswered questions about whether or not my father actually loved me.  You don’t have to walk through life with those doubts so I hope you feel lucky and blessed.

Maybe you’re not shy; maybe you’re just humble.  Humility is an honorable trait to have.  You are inspiring to many in the way you pushed through that “thing” whether it be shyness or humility, to become an artist comfortable on stage in his own skin.  Again, that’s another thing about which I envy you.  I can barely walk into a crowded room, even if it’s just family, without suffering from severe self-confidence issues.

Back to the music.  As emotional a person as I am, it takes a lot for a song or piece of music to get to me.  In the words of “To make  you feel my love” you sang “I could offer you a warm embrace, to make you feel my love”.  That song, and the story it tells about giving of yourself and your unconditional love to another human being, in the way you sang it with just honesty, brought me to tears.  It still does when I listen to it.  And when I do listen to it I picture you singing it.  To me, that is the difference between you and Adam Lambert and the reason why you won American Idol.  It’s not that Adam is not a good looking guy.  But let’s face it, the world of music is based upon love songs.  It’s your gentle manner, your honest belief that love is so important, that raises the bar on the music you choose to interpret.

I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Adam in the open letter I wrote to him.  If you can, meaning if the almighty American Idol machine will let you, now is the time to think about what you want to do musically.  If you are going to experiment and collaborate, do it now while the iron is hot.  I think too many American Idol winners get pegged early on as “this” or “that”.  Prove them wrong.  Spread your wings a bit.  Do a duet with Josh Groban or Celine Dion.  That superstar pop-star thing may be out of your comfort zone.  But if you try stuff like that, we’ll be behind you.  You can’t sing “No Boundaries” for the next year and expect to have a career at the end.  In my opinion, you shouldn’t sing that song at all, but you are contractually obligated.  I only hope you can convince someone to let you do it your way.

I read on line, just today, the flurry of opinions regarding who won and why.  Some tried to bring everything but the kitchen sink into the conversation.  Religion, politics, homophobia, Red States versus Blue States, the Christian vote.  Believe me, none of that matters.   I think you know that.  You can tell a lot about what is going on in American culture by observing the gay community.  I read many stories and comment on blogs from gay men who voted for you.  They did not vote AGAINST Adam.  They voted FOR you.  One might think just the opposite would have happened.  I don’t know for sure if Adam is gay, but he’s certainly “gay enough” to have attracted the gay vote.  But gay men are usually well educated.  For me, it was your introspective manner and your desire to tell us who you are through your music that was so honest.  And that, my friend, is something that the gay community responds to very much.  Honesty.  It doesn’t matter if we agree about politics, religion, art, nature, sex, love, God, or anything else.  Real gay men respect those that are true to themselves.

I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing what directions you take, musically speaking.  I’ll always have a little crush on you.  And I will always get just a little emotional when I hear you sing “I could offer you a warm embrase to make you feel my love”.


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