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Adam Lambert says role models come in a variety of different forms – even in eye makeup, fingernail polish and tight pants.
"It's a really, really cool thing," the American Idol runner-up says, "to be able to show people that you can be yourself, and you should be proud of yourself, and you should own who you are and what you're about, and never make apologies for it."
So to those who speculate about his sexuality, he has a message. "Calm down," he says, and "keep speculating."
Lambert, 27, who finished second to Kris Allen in the show that ended May 20, says his comfort with himself can serve as an example. "It feels really amazing to be able to try and pass that on to kids and young adults who don't have a role model like that," he says. "It feels great because I never had a role model like that."
"Conforming is not cool," he adds. "Embracing who you are and what makes you different is actually what's really cool ... The kids that are different and out there and expressive and are bold with those choices, those are the people that grow up to be people we all want to hang out with, that become celebrities or become really successful in what they do because they believe in who they are."
As for all the talk about his personal life, Lambert says just one word when asked if he'll address his sexuality directly, say in an upcoming issue of Rolling Stone: "Maybe."