‘American Idol’: How the Show’s Inclusive New Season Reflects the Country’s Progress on LGBTQ Rights
Since debuting 16 years ago on Fox, American Idol has featured a handful of LGBTQ contestants who waited until after their Idol journeys ended to publicly disclose their sexual orientations and identities, whether by personal choice or by producers’ choice.
Idol alums paving the way
Every day, people come out at their own pace at different stages in their lives, and the same holds true for former American Idol contestants. Multi-platinum Idol alums Adam Lambert (season 8) and Clay Aiken (season 2) both famously came out publicly in magazines in different ways following their impressive runner-up stints in the singing competition. “I don’t think it should be a surprise for anyone to hear that I’m gay,” Lambert told Rolling Stone just two days after the season 9 finale in 2009, alluding to the mid-season tabloid photos that surfaced exposing him kissing an ex-boyfriend and dressing in drag.
Out Idol contenders have found chart success over the years. Both Lambert and Aiken achieved commercial triumphs with their debut albums, and Lambert’s 2012 sophomore album, Trespassing, even topped the Billboard 200, making him the first openly gay artist to reach No. 1.