It's no secret that American Idol was never kind to gay people. Until Simon Cowell left the series in Season 9, the singing reality series was riddled with gay jokes between the t-shirt clad judge and host Ryan Seacrest. And, even after the controversial judge's exit, the series failed to address the sexuality of any of its contestants, despite the fact that Idol delved into every other aspects of their lives. We learned about straight contestants' life partners, children, and whatever was sitting at the bottom of their laundry pile. But homosexual contestants never were given the opportunity to discuss their sexual preference — or, perhaps more likely, any insight into their lives was left on the cutting room floor. Until Season 13. On Wednesday's American Idol, contestant MK Nobilette came out to America as Idol's first openly gay contestant. It's an announcement that, in 2014, should have led to mere shrugs from those watching the series — after all, just last year, we saw the Defense of Marriage Act struck down and other wins for the gay community. But, when it comes to a series like Idol — which has been all too eager to keep its contestants in the closet (ahem, Season 8's Adam Lambert) — it was a groundbreaking moment.
Sitting down in front of judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban, Nobilette conceded that she would be an unconventional choice to make the top 30, despite the fact that her voice is already radio-ready. Said the contestant to the judging panel:
I'm very obviously gay. And there are always going to be people in America and everywhere else who are definitely going to hate. But I think in the last few years there have been a lot of things that have changed that. And have really made it a positive thing.
And, thankfully, the judges agreed. Said Lopez, "The world is changing I think ... We think that you could be an American Idol."
So Nobilette made it through — and the room waiting to hear the result either responded with happy tears, or indifferent faces seemingly edited to appear disapproving. (Hold your outrage — this is reality TV we're talking about.) And we officially have American Idol's first openly gay contestant. (Now let's just hope that we hear more about the contestant, who had virtually received no screen time up to this point.) This no doubt makes up for the panel's treatment of Keith London's "If I Were a Boy" song choice, but though the judges have clearly changed over the course of one week, has America, really?
Based on Twitter, the answer is a resounding yes. How refreshing to see fans of American Idol take to the social media site to support Nobilette's candidness, and important position on Season 13.
So, yes, I take back what I said following London's "If I Were a Boy." It's a good day, Idol fans, because change had to, and, indeed, did come. Watch Nobilette singing below: