Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-05-27
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Queer singer Mary Lambert on her poetry collection
by Lauren Emily Whalen

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Mary Lambert first experienced what she calls "radical vulnerability" at age seven, when she started a group therapy session at a friend's sleepover.

"I've been in therapy since I was 5," said the queer performer and writer, now 29, who rose to fame after singing the hook on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' LGBTQ anthem "Same Love" and has a new poetry collection, Shame is An Ocean I Swim Across. "I've always had the encouragement to talk about my feelings and emotional development. I started reading Case Studies in Adolescence when I was nine years old, like a weirdo."

At the slumber party, Lambert and her friends began talking about their parents' divorces, then sexual abuse they'd endured. "I realized I had started a group therapy session for my fellow seven-year-olds," said Lambert. "Every single one of us had been violated by a man or someone older than us already."

Amid the crying and bonding, Lambert experienced "an a-ha moment."

"At that point, I realized how f—ked we all are, and how important it was to be empathetic and compassionate to each other," she said. "I wouldn't have had that moment had I not been radically vulnerable [and] facilitated that sort of environment."

Lambert's radical vulnerability is a consistent presence in her art. After writing "really, really bad poems" in junior high, she fell into spoken word poetry at 18. Lambert won several regional competitions in her native Seattle and was introduced to Macklemore through mutual friends in the spoken-word community.

"At the time, I was planning on applying to graduate school to be a teacher," Lambert said. Soon after, she recorded "Same Love" and her life changed forever.

When the song became a hit, Lambert signed with Capitol Records. "When I got the call, I was working three jobs," she said. "['Same Love'] gave me a four-year pop career, which I embraced and loved. Now I get to tour the country and sing about my feelings!"

She also has a wider audience for her own words.

"[For] my first poetry collection, I went to a printer and started making books myself. It was a DIY, gritty kind of thing," she said. "This time I had a whole team behind me! I'm so excited [Macmillan] wanted to make this book a reality and saw the value in my writing."

However, Lambert refused to rest on her "Same Love" laurels. "I didn't want to get a book deal because I'm a former pop singer. I wanted to get a book deal because I'm a good writer." Over the past three years, Lambert participated in poetry workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions, composing new work and heavily editing select poems from her 2013 self-published collection, 500 Tips for Fat Girls.

In Shame, Lambert opens up about the ups and downs of celebrity, as well as body image, past trauma and mental illness. She also writes about organized religion and faith.

"My family was really strictly Pentecostal," Lambert said. "Then my mom came out as bisexual and we were immediately shunned. I was six or seven at the time, and I went from going to church three or four times a week to going to drum circles and listening to Tracy Chapman!"

In high school Lambert joined an evangelical Christian church, where she remained even after coming out. "It wasn't the community that made the coming out process difficult," she said. "It was the indoctrination of harmful belief systems: there's a 'good' way to live and there's a 'bad' way to live, rather than 'I just exist!' It took a lot of self-reflection and rejecting harmful ideology [for me to] embrace the compassionate, loving God that I believe in."

Lambert still attends church but identifies as Episcopalian. "I feel like they're very radical and current in ideology, but very classic in liturgy, which I love. It's really comforting and reminds me of home."

Although Lambert is releasing Shame with "no expectations," she recently learned it may have a wider reach.

"I'm used to my fan base, which is generally other crying queers or allies … people who are very sensitive and like Harry Potter and are like me!" she said. "But a friend said, 'I don't have any trauma, but reading your book gave me a lens into what women and queer people, or someone with bipolar disorder, might be experiencing.'

"I didn't even consider that, someone who didn't have my experience picking up this book. But now I wonder if it might offer a lens for people who have a desire to connect but don't know how, and who want to be allies. I hope there is a feeling of a friend on the other end."

A friend who staunchly believes in the goodness of people: despite her traumatic childhood, bipolar disorder and "creative differences" with the music industry, Lambert is an eternal optimist. "I never became jaded about humanity. I just don't have that in me," she said.

"For me, I've always seen the best in people. I know that's a double-edged sword, but…I just don't see any other way to exist."

In the meantime, she's working on Shame's accompanying album as well as a musical, while enjoying fall from her western Massachusetts home and writing love poems for her partner. Lambert describes her current state of mind as "blissed out."

"I'm embracing the complexity of life," she said. "There's no wrong way to live as long as you're doing it with compassion and kindness, and I'm practicing that in a way I never have before."

She added, "I'm going to speak at the UN next month, and I'm gonna play football later today. My life is awesome!"

Shame is An Ocean I Swim Across is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold. For more about the author, follow her on Twitter at @marylambertsing.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Chita: A Legendary Celebration to stream May 29 2020-05-27 - Chita: A Legendary Celebration , Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' one-night-only evening of song and dance celebrating the legendary Chita Rivera , returns this ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Rufus Wainwright, LGBTQ films, Billy Porter, Janelle Monae 2020-05-27 - Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright unveiled the latest single from his eagerly anticipated new pop album, Unfollow the Rules, a press release noted. "Alone ...

Gay News

BAMtheatre starting virtual classes 2020-05-26 - In response to the stay-at-home and social distancing orders implemented by the COVID-19 pandemic, BAMtheatre has reimagined its musical theatre-focused programming through a ...

Gay News

BOOK REVIEW Calamity: The Many Lives of Calamity Jane 2020-05-25 - You can call yourself whatever you want. Nobody says you can't have a different name every day, if that's your wish. Reinvent your ...

Gay News

DCASE annouces new online series Millennium Park at Home 2020-05-24 - Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events today announced new virtual events for everyone missing Millennium Park's renowned cultural programming. The new ...

Gay News

Patti LuPone: A comeback in quarantine 2020-05-22 - In Ryan Murphy's Hollywood, the wife becomes the boss, the "Black screenwriter" is simply a screenwriter, and the gay leading man is just ...

Gay News

Lola Lennox lives a legacy 2020-05-19 - At the age of 29, singer Lola Lennox is finally ready to release music and show listeners what she's all about. She was ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Idol' alum, PBS series, LGBT film, concert series, Bad Bunny 2020-05-18 - Openly gay American Idol alum David Hernandez has premiered his new song—"Sorry"—and the accompanying music video, a press release noted. "Sorry" is described ...

Gay News

PASSAGES H.G. Carrillo, author 2020-05-18 - Afro-Cuban writer/professor Herman "H.G." Carrillo ( known for his 2004 novel Loosing My Espanish, which deals with the experience of a Cuban immigrant ...

Gay News

Gerber/Hart Library hosts virtual panel on The 10% Show 2020-05-16 - The 10% Show was the focus of a May 13 virtual panel hosted by Gerber/Hart Library and Archives. A cable access Chicago-based LGBTQ ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.