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In the middle of Pride Month, David Archuleta, one of the most popular American Idol contestants of all time, has publicly come out as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, in an emotional two-part Instagram essay detailing his “exhausting,” complicated, and nearly 20-year struggle with his sexuality and faith.
“I like to keep to myself but also thought this was important to share because I know so many other people from religious upbringings feel the same way,” wrote the Season 7 Idol runner-up, who was raised Mormon. “I’ve been open to myself and my close family for some years now that I am not sure about my own sexuality. I came out in 2014 as gay to my family. But then I had similar feelings for both genders so maybe a spectrum of bisexual. Then I also have learned I don’t have too much sexual desires and urges as most people which works I guess because I have a commitment to save myself until marriage. Which people call asexual when they don’t experience sexual urges. There are people experiencing the same feelings of being LGBTQIA+ (I know that’s a lot of letters that a lot of people don’t understand, but there are a lot of unique experiences people feel and live that make them feel isolated and alone that are represented) who are wrestling to follow their beliefs that are so important to them, just as I have.”
While Archuleta was reluctant to put a label on his sexuality and stressed that he doesn’t “have all the answers,” he encouraged his followers, particularly religious ones, to “please consider making room to be more understanding and compassionate to those who are LGBTQIA+, and those who are a part of that community and trying to find that balance with their faith which also is a huge part of their identity like myself. I think we can do better as people of faith and Christians, including Latter-day Saints, to listen more to the wrestle between being LGBTQIA+ and a person of faith. There are more than you may realize going through that wrestle after all the misunderstandings that come with it. I don’t think it should come down to feeling you have to accept one or the other. For me to find peace the reality has been to accept both are real things I experience and make who I am. I’ve yet to figure out what that means but I appreciate you listening to this personal matter. Again I don’t feel comfortable sharing it, but felt I needed to bring more awareness to people in my same situation and let you know you’re not alone. You can be part of the LGBTQIA+ community and still believe in God and His gospel plan.”
After maxing out Instagram's character count, Archuleta continued sharing his final thoughts in his post’s comments section, writing, “For people who don’t really understand how feelings outside of just being heterosexual can be possible and OK I just plead with you to be more understanding. … I’ve tried for almost 20 years to try and change myself until I realized God made me who I am for a purpose. And instead of hating what I considered wrong I need to see God loved me for who I am and it’s not just my sexuality. … If other people choose to live differently than what you’ve been raised to believe is right, please have compassion because it’s most likely been an exhausting journey for them to be OK with the feelings they have and never have been able to change.”
In 2008, when the now 30-year-old Archuleta competed on the famous “David versus David” season at the height of Idol-mania, he was just 17, and — as he told Yahoo Entertainment in a candid 2018 interview about mental health — he was entirely unprepared for “all the pressure. You’re basically a character on a TV show, and parts of it are worked so that it fits the TV show — but they’re using your personal life. So you become this character, but it’s with your own name, parts of who you actually are, but other parts that are portrayed in a way that you’re not actually.” He also spoke about how when he signed to Jive Records after Idol, the label wanted him to be a “white Chris Brown” type of heartthrob, which made him uncomfortable. However, Archuleta did become a bona fide teen sensation post-Idol, with his first Jive single “Crush” debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, appearances on Hannah Montana (on which he dueted with Miley Cyrus) and iCarly, and a tour with Demi Lovato. At the 2008 Teen Choice Awards, he even won the surfboard award for “Most Fanatic Fans.” In 2012, the pop singer took a two-year hiatus from his music career to serve as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile.
The thousands of fan comments on Archuleta’s Saturday Instagram post were overwhelmingly positive; among those voicing their support were American Idol Season 7 winner David Cook, who wrote, “Love you man, and so proud of who you are.” Season 7 top five contestant Brooke White, who is Mormon herself, commented, “I love you David, always inspired by your most genuine and sincere soul! Proud of you. So thankful to know you.” And Season 7 top 12 finalist David Hernandez, who came out as gay in 2016 (and was the focus of a minor scandal during his Idol run when it was revealed that he'd worked as a nude dancer at a gay strip club), wrote, “Beautiful words my friend. I have and always will support you and hold a safe space for you. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing. Your willingness to open up will inspire others to do the same.”
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