It took 13 seasons, but "American Idol" finally welcomed its first openly gay contestant this week.
M.K. Nobilette, 20, was selected as one of the top 15 girls Wednesday night after her goosebump-inducing performance of Ed Sheeran's "A Team."
"We all kind of fell in love with your voice and your style, but you're not the typical 'American Idol,'" judge Jennifer Lopez told her.
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"No I'm not," Nobilette acknowledged.
"And we wonder — is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing?" judge Harry Connick Jr. interjected. "How do you fit in? Do you not fit in?"
"I have my own thoughts on that too," Nobilette said. "I'm very obviously gay, and there are always gonna be people in America and everywhere else who will definitely hate me. But I think that in the last two years there have been a lot of things that have really changed that, and have made it a positive thing."
"Thank goodness," Connick Jr. noted.
"The world is changing, I think," Lopez added. "We think that you could be an 'American Idol,' and we'd like you to be in our Top 15 girls."
Former longtime "Idol" judge Randy Jackson, who now serves as the show's "in-house mentor," commented on Nobilette's public coming out in a phone press conference with reporters Thursday.
"Who would've thought in 2014 that you'd have to do that?" he said.
"I'm just always surprised . . . we should've come a lot further a lot faster. But it is what it is."
Entertainment Weekly's Annie Barrett commended "American Idol"
on acknowledging its first openly gay contestant, but also expressed her disappointment that it had taken so long.
"But hey, let’s be happy about it instead — someone had to break the ice!" she wrote. "It’s really just a crazy technicality: Gay contestants in the past [i.e. Adam Lambert, Clay Aiken] had never spoken of their sexuality on camera, seemingly by the show’s design."
Jackson, however, insisted that it has never been "American Idol" policy to prohibit contestants from discussing their sexuality on the show.
"We've never said 'You can't do this, you can't do that,'" he said. "It's never about who you are or what you do or what you choose or where you're from. It's always really about the talent."
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. EST on Fox.
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