Former Idol Finalist Helton Says He's Gay
10/20/2006 AT 12:00 PM EDT
During the on-air interview, Flick asked Helton – who'd been in the top five on the first season of the hit FOX show – why he was no longer performing inspirational music.
Replied the singer, whose full name is Richard Jason Helton: "I can have a faith but can't be who I want to be. So a lot of it was just personal things I needed to overcome and just be proud of who I was. … Just because I am gay does not mean I can't love God." (Helton's 2004 Christian music album Real Life sold more than 20,000 copies.)
"Well there you go," said Flick. "Congratulations. "This is something that I wasn't sure you were going to talk about on the air today, so what made you decide to come out?"
Said Helton: "Today, this morning, three seconds ago … I've never even said that. It feels good."
Expanding on that, Helton said, "It does feel great. It feels good. I'm just really comfortable with who I am now. I'm very proud of who I am."
Helton's announcement made news on the same day that Grey's Anatomy star T.R. Knight, 33, told PEOPLE exclusively, "I guess there have been a few questions about my sexuality, and I'd like to quiet any unnecessary rumors that may be out there. While I prefer to keep my personal life private, I hope the fact that I'm gay isn't the most interesting part of me."