And the winner is ...

And the winner is ...

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This space is generally reserved for commentary on far-reaching, sometimes hard-hitting news events or policies that affect the LGBTQ community. Lately, the subjects have been heavy — often touching on various assaults on the community such as the transgender military ban, conversion therapy, countries where being gay is punishable by death

Sometimes it’s worth touting positive LGBTQ news, even if it’s a little light.

That brings us to “American Idol” contestant Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon.

Harmon is a pastor’s kid and he is gay.

While he had come out to his family and some friends prior to appearing on “Idol,” he hadn’t necessarily planned to continue that journey of transparency on such a large and public scale.

It’s always a difficult process, coming out. Each person must do it in his/her/their own way.

Harmon is a big talent with an interesting, emotionally wrenching personal story. He is the type of contestant TV audiences tend to embrace.

What helped make Harmon’s story resonate with many viewers is that his deeply religious family struggles with his sexuality and does not fully accept him. They weren’t in attendance when he performed, which perhaps made people root for him harder. And that is a fabulous thing: that the national community supported him even if his parents did not.

Harmon has pointed out, however, that his relationship (or lack thereof) is not as straightforward as people may believe. While his parents aren’t fully accepting and not 100-percent supportive, he isn’t entirely estranged from them.

He’s been adamant about not downplaying that there are plenty of people who are totally rejected by their family and friends because of their sexuality. Harmon has said he believes it’s just as important to talk about situations where parents and loved ones are “just really grappling with trying to coexist even though they disagree or can’t accept someone’s sexuality.”

He has said his parents aren’t monsters and, just as they try to accept him in some way, he too tries to understand their position and deep feelings on the subject of homosexuality. “There’s a lot of gray in anybody’s situation.”

If Harmon becomes the next “American Idol,” he’d be the first gay contestant to win. There have been successful LGBTQ “Idol” contestants like Adam Lambert, who finished as runner-up in 2009. Clay Aiken, a gay “Idol” contestant during the second season, has found stardom since being on the show, though he too finished in second place.

Regardless of where Harmon finishes on “Idol,” he should be applauded. His story has connected with so many people who can relate and feel his pain.

Fear of rejection from family, especially one’s parents, is one of the biggest reasons many LGBTQ people struggle to come out. Add to that the struggle with one’s own conservative upbringing and spirituality as an LGBTQ youth and it’s a double whammy.

If his courage has inspired just one LGBTQ kid struggling with a similar situation, and that kid can now proudly embrace the sentiment of “I am who I am,” Harmon is a huge winner.

Bravo, Mr. Harmon!


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