Why the First Openly Gay American Idol Contestant Still Matters
By Jerry Portwood
While Adam Lambert remained closeted while a contestant on American Idol and Clay Aiken considered himself straight during his season of Fox's reality competition (and later came out), 20-year-old M.K. Nobilette is now the series first openly gay contestant. It only took 13 seasons. So, why is this a headline?
The singing competition's ratings are nowhere near what they used to be, it's no longer destination TV for millions of Americans, but the show remains a powerful rags-to-riches narrative with talent trumping all odds. While the show has had several contestants who have come out after their respective seasons ended, or had acknowledged their orientation off-air, Nobilette is the first to talk about it on-camera during an episode, and she did it with eloquence.
“I’m very obviously gay, and there are always going to be people in America and everywhere else who will definitely hate me,” Nobilette said after she was asked if she thought she could be the next American Idol on the show’s previous episode. “But I think that in the last two years, there have been a lot of things that have really changed that, and have made it a positive thing.”
And she's right. So much has changed since Aiken or even Lambert were first introduced to millions of fans. And leave it to Harry Connick Jr. to have the Southern grace to sum it up simply, when he replied: “Thank goodness.” Then Nobilette was informed that she had made it to season 13’s Top 30. And then tears for everyone.
Watch Nobilette’s inspiring moment in the video below.