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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert has told Rolling Stone magazine he is gay, answering a question that followed the singer for months since he gained millions of fans on the No. 1 U.S. TV talent show.
"I don't think it should be a surprise for anyone to hear that I'm gay," Lambert told the music magazine in excerpts from an interview that were released on Tuesday.
"I'm proud of my sexuality," he said. "I embrace it. It's just another part of me."
The issue with Lambert on the cover hits newsstands this Friday, with the full interview inside.
During his "American Idol" run Lambert was known for his falsetto singing, outlandish costumes, eyeliner and fingernail polish. He was nicknamed "Glambert" and Entertainment Weekly magazine called him "the most exciting 'American Idol' contestant in years."
When he lost in May's finale to the more buttoned-down Kris Allen, some fan websites and the media buzzed with speculation that being gay cost him votes from viewers who pick a winner.
Lambert, who was widely considered the front-runner going into the finale, had never publicly said he was gay. In March, when photos appeared on the Internet of him kissing another man and dressed in drag, he said only: "I have nothing to hide. I am who I am."
His sexuality became an issue widely covered in the media because "Idol," seen by an average of about 26 million viewers a week in 2009, had never crowned an openly gay winner.
The runner-up in 2003, Clay Aiken, hid his sexuality for years after his run on the show, coming out as gay in 2008.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a group that advocates for homosexual rights, said it hopes Lambert's "decision to live openly and honestly inspires gay people and opens the hearts and minds of his fans."
Also on Tuesday, producer 19 Recordings said it had signed Lambert to a record contract and that his debut album will likely be released in the fall through RCA Records.
The announcement came a day after 19 Recordings said it had signed Allen to a record deal, a guaranteed result of his first-place finish on "American Idol." 19 Recordings is run by Simon Fuller, executive producer of "American Idol."
Lambert, 27, grew up in San Diego, California, and starred in musical theater before trying out for "Idol" last year.
In the Rolling Stone interview, he said he had a "psychedelic experience" at an annual festival held in the Nevada desert called Burning Man, and that experience convinced him to try out for "American Idol."
"I realized that we all have our own power, and that whatever I wanted to do, I had to make happen," Lambert told Rolling Stone.
Lambert also revealed a crush on Allen, who was his roommate for much of the two singers' run on "American Idol."
"He's the one guy that I found attractive in the whole group on the show: nice, nonchalant, pretty and totally my type -- except that he has a wife," Lambert joked.
"American Idol" is broadcast by the Fox network, a unit of News Corp. Past winners, including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, have enjoyed Grammy-winning careers, but stardom has also touched runners-up such as Chris Daughtry.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte