By: Chris Azzopardi / photos by RCA Records
Before catapulting to pop stardom, Kelly
Clarkson was one of us. In many ways, she still is.
The original American Idol, who memorably
erupted into waterworks when she won the first
season of the reality show in 2002, wasn’t always
able to muster the willpower she’s instilled in the
gay community through her uncompromising
persona and liberating pop anthems, including
those on her latest album, Piece by Piece.
That’s just the charm of Clarkson, who opens
up in our new interview about overcoming teen
inferiorities, diehard lesbian fans who call themselves “Kezbos,” driving Bette Midler to “suicide,”
and that night she sipped some wine, felt “sad”
for our generation and wrote a powerful song
Kelly, take my hand. I wanna go back with you.
Tell me the moment in your career you first knew gay people worshipped at your altar.
(Laughs) Oh my god, that’s amazing! It was the Breakaway World Tour (in 2005), the first tour for the Breakaway record, and it was so awesome.
One girl on tour came up and just introduced
herself and was like, “I’m a Kezbo,” and I was like, “What?!” She was like, “A Kezbo, your lesbian
fans.” And I was like, “Wait—there’s enough of you
to have a group? That’s amazing! Awesome! Go
me!” She was like, “Yeah, we just love you. We’re
gonna bring you to the other side.” I was like, “All
right, well, keep trying!” Then, on the same tour,
I had this guy and he was so funny! Because, you
know I’m a huge fan of Bette Midler and have
been since I saw For the Boys when I was a kid
and he’s like, “You’re our new Bette!” (Laughs) I
was like, “You need to aim higher. Bette Midler just shot herself! I’m not that cool, but I will work
on gaining the respect of that compliment.”
Is it hard to fathom yourself a gay icon?
I guess it’s hard to fathom you can be an icon in
general. I don’t consider myself an icon at all,
but no, I have a lot of gay and lesbian friends and
they like my stuff, so I guess it’s not so hard for
me to think (the gay community) might like my
music. But I don’t know—I’m not an icon. I’ve
only been doing this for 13 years. You’ve gotta be
doing it for a good 20 to gain that status.
When it comes to your strong bond with
the gay community, how do you explain
I have a connection, but I don’t look at it differently.
I don’t ever look at a fan as a gay fan or a
lesbian fan or a straight fan, I don’t ever look at
that. Fans are fans, and no matter what our lives
are like, no matter what path we’re on, music is
the one thing that connects us. I mean, I had so
much fun at this club recently. It’s called G-A-Y,
this club in London, and everybody knew all the
words to every song. Even the new one! And they
were gay and straight and lesbian, everybody
was there. It didn’t matter. It was just really cool.
It was a cool event, and it was fun. It’s what I love
about music, that it doesn’t matter. That’s what
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