American Idol frontrunner Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon revealed he was forced to leave home after being so open about his homosexuality on the hit TV show.
The 25-year-old janitor at his family’s church in Cantonsville, Md., first stunned the judges in the audition with his own song Heaven, questioning if there was ‘a place for people like me in heaven.’
As half of the top 40 were sent home on Sunday’s episode, Jeremiah admitted an even bigger eviction – having to leave home.
Left home: Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon revealed on Sunday’s episode of American Idol that he was forced to leave home after being so open about his homosexuality on the ABC show
‘My parents have still not been able to accept me as gay,’ he admitted, saying he quit his job at their church and moved out.
‘Being a part of this show has been good for me in one way, but it’s also been a challenge for me. I’m just being very public about my story and it’s causing a lot of change in my life.’
The conflict inspired his song choice, saying he ‘really connected’ to Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide ‘after having a really tough conversation with my parents.’
‘I want my parents to know that I love them no matter what,’ he said, adding heartbreakingly: ‘I’m sorry for disappointing them and not turning out to be everything that they dreamed of.
Close connection: Katy Perry who described herself as a fellow ‘pastor’s kid’ connected with Jeremiah
Hawaii concert: The top 40 contestants including Jeremiah performed in Hawaii
Strong rendition: Jeremiah performed Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide
‘I wish they were here. I wish my whole family were here.’
He then insisted: ‘I’m doing this for everyone who’s been outcast by their loved ones. I know this isn’t just my experience. If I can be open about it and vulnerable then maybe that can bring hope to someone else.’
He was in tears as he admitted he had wanted to dedicate it to his parents, saying: ‘They were on my mind singing that…’
Getting emotional: The former church janitor got emotional discussing his parents
Judge Katy Perry, 34, soon connected with him, saying: ‘You’re a pastor’s kid, I’m a pastor’s kid – we have a lot in common.
‘I started to find my true voice and can you imagine when my first single was I Kissed a Girl, and how they reacted?
‘It was difficult for me, because I felt very alone in what was supposed to be a really exciting time in my life,’ she told him.
The judges: Lionel Richie, Katy and Luke Bryan evaluated the talent
‘It’s taken some time, but we’ve all come around to agree to disagree.
‘I just want to say from one pastor’s kid to another, I see you, and I love you, and I accept you, and I’m so proud of you,’ Katy added.
She left him thrilled when she said: ‘I’m just excited that you’re gonna continue the journey with us to the top 20. And we’re here to celebrate with you.’
Big hug: Jeremiah and Katy hugged after he made the top 20
Despite performing in ‘paradise’ on the beach in Hawaii, the contestants faced the season’s most brutal night to make the top 20.
‘Being in Hawaii is so relaxing – but then I remembered, ”Oh my God, 20 people are going home!”,’ contestant Alyssa Raghu,16, admitted.
The savage cuts meant the end for some early favorites – including Myra Tran whose initial audition of Jennifer Hudson’s One Night Only became a massive viral hit online.
Island fashion: The pop star got into the Hawaii episode with a floral headband
‘You are up there with the Kelly Clarkson’s of the world,’ Luke had told the 19-year-old Vietnamese student, with Lionel agreeing: ‘Absolutely.’
Myra – who said the show was her chance to live ‘the American dream’ – had burst into tears after a huge ovation for her latest performance, How Far I’ll Go from Moana.
‘She did it! She killed it,’ Lionel Richie, 69, insisted – while Luke Bryan, 42, warily called it a ‘tough song’ and Katy Perr said it was ‘a bit all over.’
Dream over: The savage cuts meant the end for some early favorites – including Myra Tran whose initial audition of Jennifer Hudson’s One Night Only became a massive viral hit online
Lionel then told her: ‘The good news is that your talent is amazing. Your potential is unbelievable.’
She was soon in tears, however, when he added: ‘Unfortunately, it will not take you through the next phase of the competition. But we love you very very much and don’t let this discourage you, not one bit.’
Blind singer Shayy Winn, 17, was also out despite Lionel calling her ‘a light that comes along that inspires all of us.’
Tough news: The judges broke it to Myra that she wasn’t advancing and she cried
‘We love you, and I’m sure that America has fallen in love with you,’ he told her. ‘The potential in where you can go with this is endless – the timing may be wrong. You’re not gonna make the top 20 but we love you.”
It was also the end for a performer with one of the most heartbreaking stories, with Nick Townsend, 25, having lost both his brothers to suicide.
‘Seeing him perform on the stage, I feel like he’s living again,’ his sister insisted.
Good times: Lionel and Luke were having fun together in Hawaii
‘Your story has really affected us,’ Luke then told him. ‘I don’t know if we’ve had one shake us up quite like your story has. It’s very heavy on our hearts to let you know that you’re not in our Top 20.’
Lionel then stressed: ‘Do you realize how many people you’ve inspired? ‘Watching your story on American Idol, do you know how many people you’ve saved?’
After Nick walked away, Lionel said: ‘That was a tough one. I love that kid.’
Tough one: The judges struggled with sending Nick Townsend home
Formerly-homeless hopeful Kai the Singer, 19, who admitted being on the show felt like a dream, also had to say goodbye.
‘The first time we met you, Kai, we loved you. And we love you and we see you and we believe in you,’ Katy told her before leaving her shaking with the bad news.
‘You’ve made us believers,’ Lionel insisted, with Kai calling the show ‘so life-changing. I just know that somehow this is just the beginning.’
Strong effort: Kai The Singer also failed to advance into the next round
Johanna Jones – the 23-year-old whose boyfriend proposed on the Idol stage – was also among those cut.
‘No matter what, she’s my American Idol and I love her and can’t wait to have a future together,’ new fiance Matt Zavoral said.
The news was particularly brutal for Nate Walker, 18, who went through the toughest journey to get to Hawaii.
Journey over: Nate Walker overcame obstacles but the journey ended in Hawaii
The 18-year-old had been rushed to hospital before the group round – just to come back and push through both the group round and a solo performance with almost no voice.
Nate – who tried to warm himself to at least one judge, singing Still by Lionel’s former band the Commodores – insisted he could envision his name being announced as the overall winner.
He looked stunned when Lionel told him he was too ‘in his head’ and said: ‘You won’t make out top 20.’
Familiar song: Nate performed Still by Lionel’s former band the Commodores
‘I’m gonna use every single thing they said,’ he insisted later of the criticism. ‘They know what they’re talking about.’
Many favorites made it through, however.
Alejandro Aranda, 24, had arguably the biggest impact in the auditions, with Luke saying they were in ‘the presence of greatness.’
True talent: Alejandro Aranda sailed into the top 20 as he continued to impress
He continued that again in Hawaii with a gorgeous rearrangement of Coldplay’s Yellow that left Katy screeching: ‘He makes me wanna make out with someone!’
Katy told him he ‘took a risk’ by coming on American Idol, sending him through by saying ‘We believe in you. You’re brilliant – just keep believing it.
‘Alejandro, from one pop star to another – welcome to the top 20.’
Warm welcome: Katy welcomed Alejandro into the top 20 as a fellow pop star
High school student Alyssa Raghu had started the show, getting a standing ovation for her version of Meghan Trainor’s Dear Future Husband, saying: ‘It looks natural, finally!’
The 16-year-old, returning for a second shot on the show, had tears as she faced the final judgment.
‘Honestly, we don’t see a top 20 with you,’ Katy said, finally adding after a teasing pause: ‘… not in it.’
She’s back: Alyssa Raghu also made it into the top 20
High school student Madison VanDenburg, 17, said the response to her performance of The Jackson 5’s Who’s Lovin’ You made it ‘the best night of my life.’
She was thrilled by Lionel quickly telling her she made it through, with Katy insisting: ‘You’re a star.’
Logan Johnson – who the judges said will make the girls ‘lose their minds’ – added to his heartthrob by performing Justin Bieber’s Sorry ‘with a little twist,’ singing parts in Spanish.
Teen talent: High school student Madison VanDenburg, 17, said the response to her performance of The Jackson 5’s Who’s Lovin’ You made it ‘the best night of my life’
‘He’s from Boise, Idaho!’ Katy said of the unexpected performance, adding ‘He looks like Jonas Brother! Did we know that?’
Luke teased him about ‘tough news’ they have to tell contestants, before smiling: ‘Fortunately, you’re not one of those. You’re in the top 20.’
The 20-year-old had opened up about his previous addiction to pain killers, with his mom proudly saying his success on the show proves you can ‘rise from adversity.’
Nice twist: Logan Johnson added to his heartthrob image by performing Justin Bieber’s Sorry ‘with a little twist,’ singing parts in Spanish
Luke also teased Ashley Hess, 27, by telling her after admitting her performance was ‘a little sketchy.’
‘Early on we all agreed you were probably top 10. Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that you’ll be top 10,’ he told her, looking upset and serious.
‘But we can guarantee you’re Top 20,’ he told her after a pause.
Little sketchy: Ashley Hess made it through despite a ‘little sketchy’ performance
Ashley – who the judges earlier predicted as a potential winner – performed with a band for the first time with H.E.R.’ s Feel A Way, with them agreeing she was more comfortable performing behind the piano.
Dimitrius Graham was shown walking away from the judges in tears – just to scream with joy to tell the others he was through.
‘This is the best day of my life. I’m so happy,’ he said, saying the tears were from being overwhelmed – and soon leaving his mom screaming in joy on the phone.
Made it: Dimitrius Graham was shown walking away from the judges in tears – just to scream with joy to tell the others he was through
Katy was then shown screaming in admiration during his performance of Latch by Disclosure ft Sam Smith, with Lionel also standing to clap and cheer.
Laci Kaye Booth – who earlier won a coveted Katy Perry chair toss – was called ‘the definition of a diamond in the rough’ by Katy who sent her through.
The 23-year-old sang Georgia Mn My Mind, starting gently with acoustic guitar before a big section with the band, wit Katy telling her: ‘You are really special.’
Life dream: Laci Kaye Booth – who earlier won a coveted Katy Perry chair toss – was called ‘the definition of a diamond in the rough’ by Katy who sent her through
Walker Burroughs – who got to see his twin sister who lives in Hawaii – was told by Lionel: ‘It’s going to be very hard for us NOT to see you in our Top 20.’
Ryan Hammond, 25, dedicated Donny Hathaway’s A Song for You to his new boyfriend, saying it allowed him to finally sing a love song.
Katy then got his to ‘say a positive affirmation’ – leaving him tears when it was, ‘I. Am. In. The. Top. Twenty.’
Love song: Ryan Hammond, 25, dedicated Donny Hathaway’s A Song for You to his new boyfriend and made it into the top 20
‘You’ve arrived!’ she told him with a hug, with Ryan playing a trick of his own on his family, shaking his head before saying: ‘Just kidding!’
Luke admitted that he ‘pegged’ Evelyn Cormier, 19, as ‘that coffeeshop girl’ who would never get further – sending her through by saying: ‘Last night eliminated that.’
Kate Barnette, 23, also got through, thanks to her performance of Lorde’s Royals.
Reality star: Evelyn Cormier also advanced into the top 20
Uché, 24, only scraped through the audition – with Lionel changing his vote from an initial no – and continued his improvement, getting the judges on their feet with Wild Cherry’s Play That Funky Music.
‘You killed it last night,’ Lionel told the singer, who wore a fur-like jacket over his bare chest.
‘You were struggling to hit notes when I first saw you come out for your audition. You were hitting high notes last night like it was no big deal.
Dance party: Uche got the crowd dancing and advanced to the next round
‘And you can’t teach stage presence. That was natural gift you had.’
Calling him ‘Mr Entertainement,’ Lionel teased him by saying: ‘With great debate we’re gonna let you go home … but we’ll see you back here for our top 20.
Riley Thompson – the youngest at 16 – also got through with Luke calling her America’s ‘country sweetheart.’
Youngest singer: Riley Thompson, 16, was the youngest singer in the competition
Made it: The teenager made it into the top 20 after her showcase performance
Wade Cota, 27, panicked when he got through to Hawaii – not realizing he did not need a passport to get there.
He said his being onstage for Hozier’s Work Song was the first time he ‘felt at home’ there, saying: ‘American Idol has changed lives before and I’m hoping I’m the next in a long list. I would love it if my mom did not have to work. All I wanna do is take care of her.’
Luke teased him about hating flying by saying: ‘I think you’re going to have to get on a plane, and go back home… and then get ready to come back to Hollywood because you’re in the top 20.’
At home: Wade Cota was at home singing Hozier’s Work Song
‘That’s crazy – why?’ Wade asked, amazed, with Katy telling him his ‘voice is instantly recognizable. I say, “Oh yeah, that’s my friend Wade.’
Katy called Eddie Island, 25, ‘such a star’ as he started Swedish House Mafia’s Don’t You Worry Child, admitting: ‘I love him so much!’
He was sent through in front of Margie Mays, 25, who was sent home after Katy warned them both the show was ‘American Idol, not American personality.’
Crazy talk: The singer said it was ‘crazy’ that he was in the top 20 and asked why it happened
Laine Hardy – who had not even auditioned, only there to play guitar for a family friend who was eliminated – was understandably thrilled to get through the same stage he was cut last season.
We have made a monster!’ Katy said of the 18-year-old’s version of The Beatles’ Come Together.
He was through ahead of Tyler Mitchell, 26, who was sent home while sitting alongside Laine. He performed Suitcase by Steve Moakler, whom mentor Bobby Bones called a good friend and called so they could chat before Tyler took the stage.
American Idol continues on ABC on Monday when the top 20 perform solo.
Quirky pair: Eddie Island advanced but Margie Mays was sent home
Most improved: Laine Hardy took the last spot in the top 20