Has anyone gay ever won the X Factor?

The X Factor has become a mainstay of British weekend television and has given us fourteen winning acts. But have any of them identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?

First off, there has never been an openly transgender winner of X Factor, there also has never been an openly lesbian or bisexual winner. There has been just one openly gay man to win the biggest talent competition in the UK – and he wasn’t even out when he took part in the competition.

Joe McElderry is the only gay person to win the show. He won the competition in 2009 – however, he wasn’t openly gay during the competition and denied rumours surrounding his sexuality. He came out after the show in an exclusive interview with The Mirror newspaper – which called his decision to come out as “brave”.

More worryingly the X Factor has produced more winners who have been revealed to have been homophobic or tweeted anti-gay comments than actual LGBT winners.

In 2014 James Arthur was eventually dumped by his record label after it emerged that he released a diss track in which he used the term “f**king queer”. In 2018 it was revealed, days before she was to headline Birmingham Pride that Louisa Johnson had repeatedly used the slur “faggot” on Twitter. Birmingham Pride did not cancel her appearance, despite calls from pride goers. The first ever winner of the show, Steve Brookstein once said that he wished the openly gay gossip columnist Dan Wootton had HIV.


Here’s the complete list of winners of X Factor since 2001

2004 Steve Brookstein

2005 Shayne Ward


2006 Leona Lewis

2007 Leon Jackson

2008 Alexandra Burke

2009 Joe McElderry

2010 Matt Cardle

2011 Little Mix

2012 James Arthur

2013 Sam Bailey

2014 Ben Haenow

2015 Louisa Johnson

2016 Matt Terry

2017 Rak Su

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