American Idol may finally have an openly gay finalist

After revelations that American Idol 7 semi-finalist David Hernandez stripped naked at a gay club, will we have a contestant come out as gay on the show?

“No finalist has ever been portrayed as openly gay during the past six seasons of ‘American Idol,'” the AP reports, noting that “[w]ith more details about contestants’ personal lives being exposed — both on the show and unofficially online — that could change, and soon.” During the auditions, one contestant, Leo Marlowe, said his mom called him a “prom queen,” but that’s the closest the show has come so far this season.

The most obvious contender is Danny Noriega, who has not officially come out on the show, but has been the most flamboyant contestant ever (not that flamboyancy equals gayness). On Tuesday, he hysterically slapped down Ryan Seacrest, who said he hadn’t noticed Danny’s purple hair, and Danny said, “mmm hmm.” However, in a video he posted online, Danny reveals he’s gay in an improvised rap: “I got my do-raag/because I’m a motherfucking faggot/and I don’t give a shit what you have to say/yeah, I’m gay.”

David Hernandez, however, says he’s straight. His MySpace page says he’s straight. But there’s some circumstantial evidence, besides stripping for men for three years, he also has a friend who’s a gay porn star [NSFW].

Fox would only tell the AP, “We do not comment on the personal lives of the show participants,” but the AP calls them on their bullshit, noting that the show “has devoted plenty of screentime to participants’ personal lives, ranging from asking intimate questions of the contestants … to aiming the camera at their sobbing significant others in the audience, to airing fully edited segments about their backgrounds.”

First-season contestant Jim Verraros, who came out after the show concluded and said two years ago that Fox wouldn’t have let him come out on the show, now tells the AP, “I’m not here to name any names, but I feel like there are some definite possibilities for this to happen this year. Do I think it’ll happen? I don’t know. I hope it does.” He says during his season, “The message boards were so homophobic. The gay-bashing was awful. It was horrible. They said a faggot would never win ‘American Idol.’ It was pretty intense. I think it’s something you have to expect in this industry, whether it’s ‘American Idol’ or a sitcom or Broadway. It’s going to happen the more exposed you are.”

AfterElton.com editor Michael Jensen says the series “hasn’t seemed very conducive or gay friendly to contestants coming out. Simon and Randy have not hesitated to mock effeminate contestants and crack the occasional gay joke. It has not communicated to contestants that it would be a good place to come out.”

Is America ready for a gay ‘Idol’? [AP]
Danny Noriega – Chain of Fools [YouTube]
David Hernandez’s Two Degrees of Separation from Porn! [QueerClick]

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.