By Jase Peeples
Originally published on Advocate.com October 18 2012 4:00 AM ET
Jason Brock may have grabbed our attention with his unforgettable X Factor audition (a flawlessly executed performance of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind”), but it was his bright, bubbly personality that won our hearts.
Casually coming out to the audience within moments of taking the stage, he combined confidence, class, and just the right amount of sass (a breath of fresh air in reality music shows). That first performance has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube.
Having made the final cut, and as he prepares for the competition’s live performances, the Brockstar takes a moment to chat with The Advocate about his revealing audition, being himself, and why he thinks the world is ready to crown a gay X Factor champion.
The Advocate: What drew you to audition for the X Factor?
Jason Brock: I was ready to leave my job, first of all. I was being moved to another department, and I didn't want to go. I had been singing and performing for a long time already, and I thought that auditioning for the show would be the perfect way for me to get into full-time entertainment and leave the tech support world forever.
Some performers initially choose to hide their sexuality on shows like this, but you’ve been open since day one. Do you ever worry that being honest about who you are may cause difficulties for you later in the competition?
The thought crosses my mind that difficulties could arise, but most people seem to accept my sexuality and see beyond just that part of me. I feel like my being gay should be cool with everyone anyway. The judges really seem more concerned about my performance and don't seem worried about me being gay or not. I hope American voters feel the same if I get that far. I want them to vote for me regardless of my sexual orientation, and I think most of them will.
When you came out to the audience in your audition, you were very casual about it. Rather than have a big, dramatic “I’m gay” reveal, you simply mentioned your boyfriend in passing. Was that a conscious decision, or did it just come out in the moment?
I have been open about it all along because I wanted to be sure that when I got in the show it would be for all of me, not me minus the gay part, although that would have been hard to miss. Also, I want to make a difference in the lives of LGBT people. One day I want to help make marriage equality a reality on a federal level. My boyfriend is a Japanese citizen. He lives there, so we can't be together easily without gay marriage being legalized by the U.S.
Do you remember the first gay person on television who had a positive impact on you?
Yes! It was Ellen. I thought she was hilarious on her sitcom before she even came out! Then my family made me feel weird about watching it because she had told the world she was gay. That sucked for me because I knew she was like me, although I hadn't completely understood or embraced my own sexuality yet. It was good to know someone was out there.
What’s been your favorite part of the X Factor experience so far?
My favorite part was my first audition. It was so amazing to realize that I had what the judges were looking for. The things they said to me were truly amazing. L.A. said I was a song's best friend or something similar. Britney said I was magnificento. Yes, she made that word up. I am so fortunate to have gotten that wonderful reception, and I worked really hard for it too.
Are people recognizing you on the street from your amazing performances on the show?
Yes, they have been recognizing me! It's pretty amazing to me. I've never experienced this in my life! It just makes me feel really good and proud of my performances. Plus, I can really see how the gay community is embracing me when I walk around in the Castro in San Francisco.
Do you think America is ready for a gay X Factor champion?
Yes! I think this is the year for a gay X Factor champion! America is definitely ready. Being gay seems more widely accepted than ever before, and I would love to be a positive influence on our behalf. Plus, I just want to win so I get to feel the love of the world, and I'll give that love back 100%. Oh. yeah, and also $5 million and a record contract. Hello!