Sing out

Gay church janitor stuns judges with song about queer people’s place in heaven

Katy Perry and Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon on

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon is the out gay son of a pastor who works as a janitor in his dad’s church, and he just delivered one hell of an audition for American Idol.

It’s not unusual for an AI audition to tug at the heartstrings, often helped (nudged? forced? whatever you want to call it) along by skilled production techniques employed to juice up the poignancy.

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But Harmon’s audition didn’t need any of that.

The aspiring singer-songwriter from Catonsville, Maryland stepped before judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan to sing an original song about whether gay people like him are allowed to go to heaven.

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In an interview segment that aired just ahead of his performance, Harmon shared a bit of his own coming out story, set against his strict religious upbringing:

“I first realized I was gay when I was nine years old. I had a crush on a guy in youth camp.

I first came out to my parents and my family three years ago. The consensus seemed to be that this is not a path that I should follow.

There’s times when I do feel alone. The hardest part for me is seeing how difficult it is for my family. I’m hopeful that it’s an experience where we can learn to grow together.”

Whether you believe in heaven as an actual place or not (and, come on…), Harmon’s struggle to figure out his place in the world is one that resonates with countless LGBTQ people.

Watch him perform his original song, “Almost Heaven”, below:

After he was finished, the visibly moved judges decided unanimously to advance him to the next round of the competition. Lionel Richie told him it’s time to ditch the broom.