Britney Spears (left) with fellow X-Factor judge Simon Cowell

A singer who once worked with Britney Spears has tearfully come out as gay to the star during his emotional audition on X-Factor, reports People.

Don Philip toured with Spears in the early part of her career and sang with her on the duet I Will Still Love You on her 1999 debut album.

He surprised the pop singer and now X-Factor judge when he appeared on stage at the San Francisco auditions for the reality talent show.

“I know him. We did a duet together 10 years ago,” Spears, who seemed happy to see Philip, said to her fellow judges.

At one point, however, Philip began to cry and told the panel that he is gay.

Speaking to Spears about working together in the past, he said: “At the time I didn’t think I was worthy. I didn’t think you thought it was okay that I am gay.”

Britney told him, “I think it is fine you are gay” and called him “brave” but apparently voted to not let him through.

“Maybe during the years you’ve gone through lot of hardship and battles and you’ve gone through that more than training on your voice. Your voice is really not up to the bar of the X-Factor,” she is heard telling Philip in video clip of the audition filmed by an audience-member.

A source told People: “You could tell she was emotional and she really felt for him especially when he was crying, but she also stayed calm.”

On Facebook, Philip later wrote that his voice “froze” when he began to sing.

“Perhaps this was not the place for me to reveal my very soul and obstacles of my past. Certainly not the place for a reunion… I promise I only had good intentions in mind.”

He added: “… when I looked into the very eyes of my old label mate and saw she too was sad. I knew the whole situation was spinning out of control.. my heart broke.”

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