Out, proud reality star Jermaine Sellers, whom you’ve seen on Bravo TV’s Your Husband Is Cheating On Us, BET’s Sunday Best, and, of course, Season IX of American Idol, is preparing for the new year, but not without setting the record straight about his departure from Idol nearly a decade ago. The controversy in question arises out of his encounter with embattled stage and screen persionality Todrick Hall. Hall, who is dealing with several varieities of on and off-set drama, was also featured on the iconic singing competition, and as Jermaine relates, played a role in getting him booted from the Amateur Hour revival. “I thought because both Todrick and I were out, gay performers, I could seek his help with [Idol]. I thought we could pull on the same rope together, and both be lifted up.”

Sellers is intimately familiar with the struggles faced by Black, gay entertainers. A child of the Midwest, been singing and acting since he was in his teens. For Idol, Sellers says, he had to keep a “low profile” as a gay vocalist, so that audiences–and the judges–would focus on his talent rather than his sexuality. “That’s why I thought Todrick would help mwe. But instead, he saw me as a threat, and maneuvered behind the scenes to get me off the show,” Sellers tells The Hollywood Digest. That’s far from sour grapes, say others in the industry who have worked with Hall. Tommy McKissock, Hall’s former assistant, levied a laundry list of allegations against the Video Music Awards winner, including colorism, sexual abuse, and nonpayment of dancers and others who worked with Hall. McKissock, who worked at close quarters with Hall, Tweeted that “I was @Todrick Hall’s personal assistant for years and I know every detail of his life including deliberate non-payment to people, racism, sexual assault, sexual harassment, online bullying, exploitation, illegal business practices…the list goes on.”

Sellers, for his part, notes that he adopted a cordial approach with Hall. “I love everybody,” Sellers declares, “and I wish no ill towards him. But I was shocked at his attitude towards me.” Sellers believes Hall swayed (then) Chief Judge Simon Cowell’s opinion, as well as that of the other judges. “[Hall] was very self-absorbed, and he wasn’t interested in working together. Again, I feel we out artists should always stick with each other, because it’s still a very homophobic world sometimes.”

Although Sellers didn’t advance to the top on American Idol, his work has been a continuing success story since then, including a leading role in Tyler Perry’s well-received play, The Marriage Counselor. His philosophy is to always look upwards, and it has held him in good stead. Look for exciting new projects from Sellers in 2020, and get to know him better on Twitter @TheRealJSellers and on Instagram. His positive energy will pick you up, too!