Why LGBTQ Contestants Never Went Far On ‘American Idol,’ And Why It’s Unlikely This Really Will Be The Last Season

American Idol, arguably one of the greatest reality TV shows ever aired, is not as “out there” as some other shows. While some shows moved toward a progressive path, American Idol may not have followed the trend. According to Rolling Stone, in its 15 years on the air, American Idol has never crowned a fully out LGBTQ contestant, and it seems the show is looking to stay that way.

Rolling Stone made a good point as to the way LGBTQ contestants were and are viewed in the American Idol format:

“If you showed up in drag, if you lisped, if you were a boy winking at Simon instead of Paula, you were easy fodder for the cameras, but you weren’t going far.”

With the possibility of another season despite the current one being its alleged last, the crown may not be upon the head of a proud member of the LGBTQ community. Even back in its very first season, the first gay contestant, Jim Verraros, made it as far as the top ten.

Once The Advocate found his online journal, the show allegedly requested that he delete the journal. Since social media wasn’t a thing at the time, the American Idol happenings on screen wrote the entire story for the fate of the contestant.

Clay Aiken, the second place winner for the second season, also came out eventually, but he remained in the closet during his time on the show.

Some people picked up on hints here and there, but the show treated his LGBTQ identity as a completely separate element of his identity from his public persona on American Idol. The closest time an openly gay contestant came to winning was when Adam Lambert dominated season eight. The competition was close during Lambert’s time on American Idol, but his fans supported him through it all.

According to Daily News, former American Idol judge Simon Cowell doesn’t watch the show anymore. He believes the show has been on a decline ever since he and Paula Abdul left the show. Abdul left the show in 2009 after attempts to renegotiate her contract failed, and Cowell left the show in 2010 to produce X-Factor.

Simon Cowell spoke on the state of American Idol after he and Paula left.

“Paula was the right leg and I was the left leg. And with both legs gone, it wasn’t the same show. To be honest I think it changed more significantly once Paula left. At least for me, the show was never the same because she and I had such a connection and such a shorthand together.”

He was always remembered as the meanest and bluntest among the trio of original judges. Known for ruining just about anybody’s day with some of the most honest criticism is something he actually didn’t intend for himself.

Simon Cowell spoke on his identity as the “meaner” judge in American Idol.

“To be honest I found that to be embarrassing. In real auditions you can’t tell someone who is terrible that they’re good and promise them that they’re going to become a star. When we did the show, I would behave as I did in real life. I didn’t take it too seriously when they were bad so I found most situations quite funny.”

Luckily there is good news for anyone looking for more American Idol, because according to New York Post, the show might not be in its final season after all. Due to high ratings and a huge audience, it seems unlikely that the show will end at this point in time.

“The numbers look great this season. I think we’re all pleased that people are watching and some are perhaps coming back. Does that mean it’s the end? I’m not so sure.”

The show debuted at the beginning of the digital era, so it’s safe to assume that the next iteration of American Idol may well be a lot more interactive and social media friendly than it already is.

[Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]