The First Gay American Idolist Turns 24

Brian’s recent post on American Idol and the rampant gay-baiting that goes on between Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell got me thinking about the show’s history with gay contestants. It is pretty much non-existent.

Sure, there has been rampant speculation about certain male contestants, but no Idol contestant has officially been out while appearing on the show. The closest anyone got to that was Jim Verraros from Season 1.

He posted “gay-friendly” comments on his Idol-sponsored fan website, which FOX subsequently made him remove. According to Verraros, it “wasn’t because I was gay. It was because they thought I was trying to gain more votes and have that little extra edge.”

After he left the show, Verraros came out “officially” to The Advocate in 2003. This earns him the distinction of being the first openly gay American Idol contestant.

The singer turned 24 this week. Here are a few fast facts:

  • He is a Chicago native and is of Greek heritage.
  • Both of his parents are deaf.
  • He placed 9th out of 10 finalists on American Idol Season 1.
  • He’s starred in two queer independent films: Eating Out and its 2006 sequel, Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds.
  • His first album, 2005’s Rollercoaster, spawned several dance club hits. His follow up album, Chapter Two, will be released later this year.

If you’d like to know more about the singer, I’d recommend the 2003 Advocate Profile.