An actual conversation I had not so long ago with my heterosexual older brother:
Him: "Have you seen Wicked ? It's fantastic." Me: "No. I don't like Broadway stuff. You know that." Him: "You should see it. [His wife's name] and I saw it and it's amazing." Me: "When it was over, did you immediately begin having sex with men? Because it's a known fact of science that Wicked automatically turns you into a homosexual." Him: "Huh?" Me: "That was a joke. Since the show is so gay metaphor-ish and all." Him: "What's gay about it?"
After fully explaining every single possible thing there was to explain about Wicked to my clueless brother, he still thought I was kidding. What could possibly be gay about a musical that was based on The Wizard of Oz ? No, seriously. He said that. And he went to college. So there you have it, fellow queers. Straight America still doesn't see you.
And yes, OK, they see RuPaul. And they see Carson Kressley. And they see Rosie and Ellen and Melissa. All good. But they didn't see any of them until they got right up on the TV screen and said, "Oh, hi, by the way, have I mentioned I'm a homosexual yet? No? OK, well, then let me correct that. Because that's what's going on." It still needs spelling out a lot of the time. And you can blame the straights for that if you want. Why not? They blame us for stuff all the time. But in their defense, the world is kind of built by them and for them. They're still not used to having to notice us. Especially on a show like American Idol.
Why does Idol matter to this discussion? Because even though the ratings are slipping, it's still the number 1 show on American television. It's popular culture at its biggest, shiniest, dumbest, loudest, and blandest. People you know will be talking about it this week, whether you want to participate in the conversation or not. And they will be talking about former Wicked cast member Adam Lambert.