Harry Connick Jr. Emotional About First Gay Finalist on Idol

I’ve always wondered if the judges on American Idol get emotional when the cameras aren’t rolling. Now I know they do because Harry Connick Jr. admitted as much Tuesday (Feb. 18) when he was a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show .

“Can I tell you something?” Connick asked DeGeneres when they started talking about the reality show’s history-making decision to welcome M.K. Nobilette — an openly gay woman — into the Top 15.

“They didn’t show this on the air,” Connick said of his emotional outburst. “When she came in, and we told her she went through, she told us that she was gay. And I can’t remember who said what, but it was something to the effect of ’the world is changing and, thank God, the world is changing.’ I lost it. I hope I don’t get emotional now.”

Fellow judge Jennifer Lopez actually made the comment last week after Nobilette told the judges, “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.”

Connick acknowledged he doesn’t always like to hear the contestants’ back stories because Idol is supposed to be all about their talent.

“I’m like, ’If this is what happens when somebody goes through, what’s gonna happen when somebody doesn’t go through?'” he said. However, when Nobilette shared her story, he said he immediately thought, “What a wonderful day in our country.”