‘American Idol’ Lawsuit Tossed Out

Self-described 'most-hated contestant' had sued over discrimination

A New York federal judge has kicked out a discrimination lawsuit against American Idol filed by a homosexual contestant who was told by the crew to “gay it up,” ruling that the man knew what he was in for.

Ian Benardo, 30, appeared on American Idol three times—in 2006, 2007, and in 2010 by special request for Simon Cowell’s farewell show.

In the suit, Bernardo describes himself as “the most hated contestant” on the show due to his lack of talent and for being argumentative with the temperamental Cowell.

He says that he was told to sing the song “Gloria” for Cowell’s send-off and to “gay it up” during the performance. Benardo also claims he was repeatedly insulted by the stage crew who called him “fag” and “homo.”

But the judge has ruled that if he didn’t want to be put down, he should have stayed home.

“He, like everyone else with a modicum of talent (or less) who auditions for American Idol, chose to appear on a program that was famous for its judges insulting behavior toward the lame, the halt and the talentless, knowing full well what was coming— if only because he had experienced it before,” Judge Colleen McMahon wrote. “Benardo went on air after being told what was expected of him, and he knew full well what to expect. Having volunteered to be insulted, he cannot now claim that he was sexually harassed.

But Benardo argues that he was discriminated against because the TV talent show wanted to exploit his flamboyant behavior.

The judge disagrees.

“Ian Benardo is a man who describes himself as having a 'non-conforming appearance based on gender stereotype'—which the court understands to mean that he appears to conform to a stereotype of an effeminate homosexual male,” the judge wrote in her decision.

From her ruling, the judge appears to have an equally dim view of the show and Benardo both: “The audition show features performances of the individual contestants who win a place on Idol, and some who just miss the cut, but also a number of individuals who never had a realistic chance of being chosen—often persons with little or no talent, who are content on making fools out of themselves (or to allow others to make fools of them) in front of a national television audience. For the 2006-07 season, Benardo was apparently one of these.”