When former American Idol contestant R.J. Helton came out on Sirius Out Q radio in 2006, he told host Larry Flick he’d stopped making inspirational music because “I can have faith but can’t be who I want to be.”
Helton proved he’s come a long way since then with an emotional performance of composer Scott Alan’s song “Blessing” at Birdland in New York over the weekend. In the song — a plea to a parent to accept him for being gay — he sings, “I only wish you’d understand / Who I love is exactly what God has planned,” and later, “All I ask is in time you give me your blessing.”
Helton released the Christian album Real Life on an independent label in 2004. Reporters had speculated on Helton’s sexuality when he was on Idol — he placed fifth in the first season, which also included Jim Verraros, the first out Idol contestant.
His announcement made major waves in the Christian music world, as did Tuesday’s announcement by Christian pop artist Jennifer Knapp that she is a lesbian.
Watch the performance here.