The Voice – Jamar Rogers On Speaking Out on HIV+ Diagnosis

When The Voice contestant, Jamar Rogers revealed he was HIV positive on the show Monday night, those of you who remember him as Danny Gokey’s best friend from Season 8 of Idol, were probably surprised. He never revealed his diagnosis on the air–not even to Idol producers as he tells the New York Post:

Jamar Rogers — a food bank volunteer from The Bronx — auditioned for Seasons 8 and 9 of “American Idol” without ever disclosing he was living with HIV.

“I remember being completely petrified throughout that entire process that the producers would find out,” he says. “Maybe my roommate would find out. I just lived with this massive cloud over my head.”

Now, his secret is out.

Rogers 29, shared his condition with almost 20 million viewers when he auditioned Monday night for another singing show — NBC’s “The Voice.”

“I decided to come clean because, at some point, you have to decide that you want to live for something greater than yourself,” says Rogers, who landed a spot on Team Cee Lo.

When Jamar auditioned for Idol in the summer of 2008, only his best friend, Danny Gokeyknew his secret.  Jamar says Idol producers knew about his drugs past, but opted not to use it on the show. “But ‘Idol’ is a different kind of show. Their audience is more conservative,” he says.

Hm.  The Voice’s audience is a little younger, but I’m not sure if they are more conservative.  If Jamar goes deep into the competition, we’ll see if his dark past hurts him or not. I think it’ll help, especially if he’s good. It would have helped him on Idol too.  Everybody loves a good redemption story.

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  • Anonymous


  • hcpoirot

    His truthfulness about his HIV positive will help him especially if he make it to voting round and he sing his heart out. And be humble. The voters loved humble talents.

    Remember Chris Rene from X factor? he got tons of votes earlier rounds and finish third, largely thanks to his troubled past that he was addicted to drugs and he is clean when he enter the X Factor.

    Though his vocal is not as good as Jamar (waaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy below), he gained lot of sympathy and had very good results despite his vocal ability.

  • randi

    I wish these contestants would stop relying on their “backstory” and just rely on their talent. 

    Bravo for Jamar for kicking his drug habit and I wish him a long and healthy life as he lives with HIV but I personally don’t give a crap about any of that if he’s not a good singer (which thankfully Jamar is). 

  • Anonymous

    Good for him.

  • ronnie

    I think it’s great, he will be a positive role model for others who live with HIV and him coming out might help them do that as well.  HIV has not been talked about much in the last few years, this brings attention to it in a dignified way.

  • Anonymous

    As much as we politically want these shows to  help break down social stereotypes and prejudices, I dont think this is going to help him from a career perspective.  Very few celebrities’ careers have been ‘helped’ by coming out as gay (I am sure it hurt Anthony Callea and Joe McElderry, for example) and he is going even one step further.    The bottom line is I dont think it is necessary to “get everything out in the open.” In my opinion, what goes on in people’s bedrooms should stay in the bedroom…whether you are gay OR straight.  Leaving things to the imagination can be part of the inticement and attraction to celebrities….I dont want to know exactly what Lady Gaga does in bed!…

  • Ali B

    When did Jamar say he was gay?… I thought he contracted HIV because of his intravenous drug use; using dirty needles and all that stuff.

  • Anonymous

    ” Very few celebrities’ careers have been ‘helped’ by coming out as gay (I am sure it hurt Anthony Callea and Joe McElderry, for example) and he is going even one step further. ”

    I am confused. Did Jamar say he was gay? I was under the impression that he contracted HIV from his activities as a hard core addict. Many non-gay people get HIV, from such things as drug use (9% according to current CDC statistics), or unprotected hetero sex (27%).

    Jamar also appears to be a member of at least one of the ethinic minorities (African-Americans and Latinos) where the incidence of new HIV is rising the fastest.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, my bad, I got that mixed up.  I was thinking that he was saying that because of the drug use he made a stupid decision to have unprotected sex.  My previous comments dont apply here then….though I dont think this will be any better for his career….

  • Indigobunting

    Jamar is married.  I had the impression that he contracted the virus due to drug needle contamination.

    I think he’s doing very well- he is still good friends with Danny Gokey- saw him in New York and they sang together back in Milwaukee; reports were that he looked and sounded great.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think this will hurt him at all in the competition. On the contrary, if he gives good performances, I think people will be rooting for him. Plus he came across as a very likable guy during his audition segment.

  • Miz

    I was ticked off when Jamar didn’t make it through on Idol in Season 8. It made me dislike the pimping of Danny & his backstory even more. I thought that Jamar was clearly the greater talent of the two friends.

    Hearing of Jamar’s drug past and being HIV+ sort of surprised me. I’m very anti-drugs, so I’m glad he’s clean and sober. Good for him for being open about his condition. It’s a ‘teachable’ moment. There is still much ignorance about the disease.

    Does anyone know if that Food Bank he worked at is the same one that Cindy Lauper supports? I’m wondering if she had any influence on him going on The Voice.

    Good luck to Jamar.

  • Miz

    Umm, ohreli, you are obviously not very well informed on AIDS or being HIV positive. It really isn’t a ‘gay’ disease. I thought it was pretty clear that he contracted the disease due to his former drug addiction.

    Here is a very simplistic article on how the disease can spread. It was written for teens.

  • Miz

    I missed your follow up post. Glad you understand now.

  • Listening

    So first of all I want to say I listened back to his performance and recalled that it was really good. My love of Lindsey Pavao Say Ahh had made me forget him but after jogging my memory I really liked his performance as well they’re my top 2.

    Also did anyone else realize that he sang X- Factor UK runner-up Marcus Collins new single, Seven Army Nation. What a coincidence anyway I prefer  Jamar’s version of the song It was strong and passionate while Marcus’s was cool and umm jazzy.

    Now even though he never said he was gay I do get that vibe from him no big deal. The thing is if he could admit to having HIV I scratch my head wondering shouldn’t he be able to admit to be gaying. It got me thinking if i’m right and he is actually gay yet couldn’t admit it what does that mean coming out gay is more frightening then admitting you have HIV? It’s almost like he believes people would be more accepting of his illness  than his sexuality. Hmmm or maybe he just things his sexuality is nobody’s business or heck he could be straight.

    Oh well whatev one thing I do know for sure is he’s a great singer. I hope he does make it to live shows. Also revealing he has HIV will inspire others with the disease that it’s not over for them and continue your dreams and his story about kicking his drug addiction inspirational as well.

  • Tess

    I am so ambivilant when it comes to back stories and I am rarely comfortable with any of those that are about past histories of drug abuse (and I’m not talking about recreational drug use but about hard-core control someones life drug abuse).  And I’m not saying that I don’t firmly believe in someone’s ability to leave that life behind and become a wonderful contributing member of society.

    My concern is that by making the past so much a part of the present all kinds of pressures start to surface and that expectations are developed that may result in a person’s life taking a back seat to a career…and fragile lives don’t always do well in pressure packed situations.  For every “famous” person who has overcome their addictive past and moved beyond it there are hundreds more who succumb and fall backwards because living in a world where you are on display 24/7 is exceedly hard and not always good for someone’s psyche. 

    Good luck to Jamar, and just like Chris Rene I wish him all the best and I hope they can overcome their past…but I think “life” would be so much easier if they didn’t go pedal to the metal.  Music careers don’t always have to be about putting yourself front and center…there are lots of tiers that would seem to be a lot less stressful. 

  • Anonymous

    Now even though he never said he was gay I do get that vibe from him no big deal. The thing is if he could admit to having HIV I scratch my head wondering shouldn’t he be able to admit to be gaying. 

    Vibes are rarely correct about people’s orientation, I’d just like to point that out. I don’t know what “vibe” you’re even talking about, since homosexuals are as varied as straights and we don’t have particular air about us. Ultimately, all that matters is what the person says and Jamar is married, so he likely identifies as straight. HIV and AIDS are not exclusive to gays.

  • Leandro

    A musician with drugs and alcohol problems in the past? What a surprise! So, Tony Lucca is a former alcoholic too. 70% of them must be. I hope they all bring up their backstories so one’s sob story will anull the other and people will focus on the performance again.

  • Anonymous

    I think The Voice is skewing younger than Idol and the 18-49 Ratings will reflect that. I think young adults will get where he’s coming from & he’ll be a fan favorite. While I think Juliet Simms is Cee-Lo’s strongest contestant so far, I think Jamar can surprise. I see him & Cee-Lo being a fantastic match.

  • Trish Martin

    I for one am proud of Jamar for coming “clean” about his status.  Not that it should be anyone’s business!  I liked him when he auditioned for Season 8 Idol but I like him even more now.  I noticed not alot liked his audition but I did.  Hope he goes far on The Voice, for he is one person I would buy a CD from, wait, I already did, bought his song off of itunes!

  • Listening

    EmyR, you know how people say they have a gaydar well when I use the word vibe I mean he’s triggering it. I’m usually real good at this I pick up clues from stuff like look, attitude and how they sound stuff like that also it can be just a gut feeling. It wasn’t the fact he mentioned he was a drug addict that made me think oh he’s gay Chris Rene was a drug addict and I didn’t think he’s gay. To be honest I thought Jamar was gay before he mentioned he had HIV. Oh and being married doesn’t mean someone isn’t gay, i’ve heard stories where married individuals later reveal they’re gay.

    I’m not gonna harp about it. I just think it it’s my first impression I got from him maybe my mind will change. I don’t think i’ve ever been wrong about someone I thought was gay not actually being gay. Now I might have not thought someone was gay when they were but I don’t think i’ve ever been wrong. I don’t care if he’s gay or not just an impression I got that popped into my head either way he sings great and that’s all I care about. Oh and that he’s giving back seems like a nice guy.

  • Anonymous

    EmyR, you know how people say they have a gaydar well when I use the word vibe I mean he’s triggering it. I’m usually real good at this I pick up clues from stuff like look, attitude and how they sound stuff like that also it can be just a gut feeling. 

    I’m sorry, I find gaydar (especially the things you mentioned) to be little more than homosexual stereotyping. Like I said, there are no set standards for attitude, dress, or voice patterns in the gay community. Also, just b/c there are exceptions to rules (like being married to a member of the opposite sex while gay), they are still exceptions and not the norm. I can tell you personally that “passing” is not difficult and that people often make assumptions that end up false (and offensive to be honest).

    All of this is a moot discussion: Jamar identifies as straight, therefore he is straight. It’s as simple as that. 

  • Anonymous

    I remember Jamar from season 8 auditions. He was one of my favorites and I was disappointed he didn’t get through. I always hate back stories and fast forward through them but I think it is great that he is sharing this. HIV is such an important topic and it isn’t discussed that much in the mainstream. I’m very impressed with his courage in sharing this and wish him luck on the show.

  • Anonymous

    My 75 year old grandmother was called in to take a HIV and hepatitis test because they suspected the doctor did not use sterile needles during one of her surgeries. Luckily everything was fine but it just goes to show this disease can affect anyone. Hopefully Jamar being so open will help reinforce that and lessen stereotypes that people have about the disease.

  • Listening

    EmyR, We’re going to have to agree to disagree b/c I feel just because someone says something doesn’t make it true, people lie. (Wow that statement made me feel very House-like) Also yeah some assumptions are based on stereotypes but just b/c something is a stereotype doesn’t make it not true. Stereotypes umm have some kind of evidence maybe a little gradual of truth to it most of the time whether it’s caused through genetics or cultural aspects. I’m well aware that not all straight / gay/christians /black people/white people/ new yorkers what ever group you want to mention behave the same but within those groups similarities have arose even if not all posses them. Also I’m not saying if you posses so so trait you’re automatically in that category more things factor into at least for me.

    Also let me assure you I’m down w/ treating someone accordingly to how they identify theirselves whether I think it’s true or not. That’s the way they decided to live so i’m going to interact w/ them in accordance to how they portray themselves but in my mind i’d say that’s not true.

  • sweetmm

    The background story in TVoice comes across more like a matter of fact; not as dramatic as how portrayed in AI.  At the end of Jamar’s audition what stuck in my mind was his performance and his interaction with CeeLo. 

  • Anonymous

    While I don’t think Jamar is the best vocalist in the world, I am glad that as a public figure, he found the courage to overcome his addiction and reveal the consequences of his past that he continues to live with.  I can’t think of a single actor, singer or other type of popular performer whose personal life isn’t part of what makes them a star. 

    I am sad the conversation around him being HIV positive is so quickly intermingled with assumptions about his sexuality.

  • Anonymous

    Again, I’m sorry, but stereotyping is one of the most difficult things for members of a minority to overcome. They’re usually based on how they are perceived by the majority which are often skewed by prejudice or ignorance. I would never dare suggest there was a particular way to act straight or that I have “straightdar,” so I often wish others would share in the common courtesy of not applying outdated and generic stereotypes to other people. I find the whole idea of stereotyping anyone based on gender, religion, geography, orientation, etc to be ignorant, sorry. I’m also from the south and resent negative assumptions that I’m uneducated or a “redneck,” but that’s a stereotype people make when they hear my accent. One group of people judging another and building stereotypes from that judgement does not make them true.

    I don’t understand why anyone would choose to believe others are living a lie based purely on my own suppositions, but I guess people in general are just as varied as individual groups of people. I do agree we probably will never agree on this subject.

  • Anonymous

    While I agree with you about what is private staying private unfortunately in this day with tabloids, the internet and TMZ nothing stays private so for someone seeking celebrity the question is do you want to put it out there in your own way or have someone else do it for you in a way that might blindside you… as for career being helped or hurt I do not think it has hurt Adam any.. If Jamal is on medication for HIV and has a drug past it would have come out if he went far enough in the show.. at least this way is isnt something that is going to be exposed halfway through the competition and throw him off his game.

  • Anonymous

    Yikes…a certified stereotype expert…and a proud one….how ‘typical’. Please spend a day in my childhood if you dare…lol.

    Back to the real topic: I don’t know how I feel about his sob story…usually I hate them, but this one is different..I really hope he performs well so I can root for him.

    There are many people that don’t understand HIV and will be scared to be around him now. Imagine all the hate he may receive from people in his personal life who felt deceived because he never told them. My sis is a nurse and told me that I’d be shocked by the number of people that I interact with that have HIV/AIDS but won’t tell anyone because they want to live normal lives…

  • OhMyRawrrr

    Whether or not it was good, necessary, or will help him on the show or hurt him, I think it was something he needed to unload from himself.  Will this hurt or help his career?  I don’t know.  Will it help him personally with the weight of that secret hanging over his head.  Absolutely.  Wish him the best (and I haven’t even heard him sing yet)  :)

  • PerfectStorm

    I was ticked off when Jamar didn’t make it through on Idol in Season 8. It made me dislike the pimping of Danny & his backstory even more. I thought that Jamar was clearly the greater talent of the two friends.

    I disagree. Jamar’s audition wasn’t very good on Idol. I was surprised he got as far as he did. Much improved on The Voice.

  • popfan12

    The stereotype is accurate in this case. He does in fact identify as a gay man but He is married for the sake of his career. I know this to be a fact because he was my boyfriend before his drug use became a problem. His wife is well aware of his sexual orientation. I do find it offensive that he can tell the world that he’s living with HIV but not that he is gay. 

  • popfan12

    Your gaydar is accurate. Hopefully he will come to his senses and get real with the world. 

  • Steriotype UsaClothing
  • chae

    I use to work with Jamar he is a beautiful person