“American Idol’s” First Openly Gay Contestant, MK Nobilette Shines in the Spotlight

MK Nobilette

So far, 2014 has been a groundbreaking year when it comes to highly visible people officially coming out as gay. In February, both college sports and reality TV were rocked by announcements from All-American defensive lineman Michael Sam and “American Idol’s” MK Nobilette. While neither is the first of their ilk to be gay, they are each the first to openly announce it.

For San Francisco singer Nobilette, the impromptu announcement skyrocketed the “Idol” finalist to poster girl status for other LGBTQ young people, a role the aspiring pop star seems just fine with.

“I am very proud to be a role model to younger queer people,” Nobilette told Zap2It.com. “I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback and it’s actually turned out for the better. I see no reason to hide it. I’m proud to be gay and I don’t see why that would be something to hide.”

Called a “quiet storm” by “Idol” judge Jennifer Lopez, the real storm may be yet to come for Nobilette. Not only is this talented 20-year-old under the often unforgiving public eye as a contestant in a high-pressure singing competition, but the added weight of representing an entire generation of marginalized Americans is bound to be overwhelming.

The LGBTQ response to Nobilette’s reveal isn’t surprising. After all, these young people are starved for recognition and celebrity support has most notably helped bring awareness to the epidemic of bullying that afflicts this segment of our nation’s youth. Mama Monster Lady Gaga has been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ youth, but it’s got to feel nice to finally have one of their own behind the microphone – especially one so mainstream.

Her quiet, restrained performances are powerful in that they stand squarely on the strength and sincerity of Nobilette’s voice. Although her androgynous look has garnered comments, Nobilette isn’t putting on a show of her sexuality with her clothing, hair or performance style. Rather, she is simply being who she is, someone almost unremarkably similar to so many other young girls out there, taking selfies while kissing their girlfriends and posting the pics all over social media.

It’s Nobilette’s familiarity that makes her so compelling. The ‘difference’ the judges alluded to is lack of artifice more than anything else. Nobilette isn’t out to make a statement about being gay. She is simply a talented girl full of hopes and dreams who just so happens to be gay, and her casual treatment of who she is, while at the same time acknowledging that others might have a problem with it, is a huge part of her magnetism.

Nobilette seems to be taking it all in stride, but she’s not doing it alone. Nobilette has heaps of support from her vocal coach girlfriend Casey Ellis, her lesbian mothers and her aunt, whose love of the singing competition is what got Nobilette to join 75,000 other San Francisco hopefuls during “Idol” auditions last July.

In fact, it may be that core of family support that makes it so easy for Nobilette to be the calm, matter-of-fact advocate that she’s quickly becoming. Hailing from a family where her sexuality was not seen as a betrayal of traditional values and expectations, but rather as something just as normal as her desire to sing for America helps take the edge off her declaration. Nobilette doesn’t come off as a lesbian with something to prove, because she doesn’t see herself as abnormal or defective. And, if she can keep her center through this wild ride she may not only make history for “American Idol,” but for the thousands of young people out there rooting for a hero who looks and acts and feels just like them.

How do you think Nobilette’s revelation will change “American Idol” and other mainstream media?

Photo Courtesy of Fox

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Rebecca Edwards is a pop culture junkie who loves watching, reading about and riffing on her TV addiction du jour. She has been a writer for over two decades. Her current TV obsessions include "Shameless," "True Detective" and "American Horror Story."

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