Marcus Collins, who is openly gay, lost out to girl band, Little Mix, on the television talent show X Factor at the grand final broadcast this evening on ITV 1 and filmed in front of an audience of 10,000 at Wembley Stadium.

Runner up Collins was mentored by Take That star Gary Barlow.

The X Factor ‘winner’s song’ was ‘Cannonball’ by the Irish folk singer Damien Rice. When it was originally released in 2003, it only reached 32 in the UK Singles Chart. A year later when it was re-released it reached number 19.

The 23 year-old former hairdresser from Liverpool has been living with his boyfriend David Heath for some time. Heath is himself a former X Factor contestant, a member of the band Eton Road, who came fifth in the contest in 2006. Collins met Heath when he joined the band in 2007 to replace the then lead singer, although Collins himself left the band the following year.

Last month, it was reported that Collins, who is mixed race, was the victim of a racist and homophobic phone call. A source told The Sun that Collins received a phone call in the small hours that “was just full of hate and spewed all sorts of racist and anti-gay abuse.”

The source added: “He was saying, ‘You don’t deserve to be on the show. Who do you think you are?’ and calling him every name under the sun. Marcus couldn’t believe his ears and he couldn’t understand how anyone got hold of his number in the first place.”

Marcus was the first openly gay contestant to reach the grand final of the X Factor. Joe McElderry, who won the X Factor in 2009, came out a year later, last July after pranksters hacked into his Twitter account and outed him. Despite initially denying publicly that he was gay, the incident prompted him to come out to his mother.

Will Young, who won the precursor to the X Factor, Pop Idol, came out as gay shortly after winning the competition.