Thirteen years after competing on American Idol as a 17 year old singer, and finishing in second place, David Archuleta reveals how the experience literally harmed him, and caused him to build up his walls even higher.
In a wide-ranging interview with Variety, David shares about the aftermath of coming out as LGBTQ last June, and how he still works to overcome his negative American Idol experience. Check out a few highlights below:
David shares about his “miserable” and “traumatic” American Idol experience
- David wanted to leave Idol after his “Imagine” performance. After his triumphant performance of “Imagine” on American Idol during the semi-finals, David really wanted to quit the show. “I don’t want to be here anymore” drummed through his head.
- He describes his time on Idol as “miserable” and “traumatic.” Most of his fellow contestants had some kind of nervous breakdown at some point during the season.
- David is still working out his American Idol experience. “…13 years later, I’m piecing together what actually was going on. But it’s still a process because I still don’t understand why people were so into it.”
He describes the Idol experience as a “weird grooming process” that messed with his ability to trust
- American Idol messed with his ability to trust. “I’ve talked to other ‘American Idol’ contestants about how we all have trust issues. Like: ‘You can’t trust anyone anymore, not even your own family.’ That’s what we were told. It was like some weird grooming process, from the very first audition, the way that they were speaking to us, kind of like, ‘You’re powerless little bugs. If you step out of line, then you’re out of here, and you’re going to lose this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’”
- Yet, David still has a difficult time criticizing the show. “…something in me is programmed to say, ‘I have to be grateful…'”
- Nigel Lythgoe, American Idol executive producer at the time responds to Variety: ” “I had a wonderful time working with David and was totally unaware of his grievances. I’m so sorry he has a bad recollection of his experiences on the show. He did so well in the competition, and his battle with David Cook provided an extremely exciting Finale.”
After David shared concerns about his father with Idol staff, his words ended up on TMZ
- David’s father treated online chatter about his sexuality as hot gossip. During the Idol competition, David’s father would share online gossip with him, including that fans were speculating about his sexuality, “like it was hot gossip.”
- After confiding in Idol staffers about his difficult father, it ended up on TMZ. “Anything to make it look like my dad is this evil man and poor little helpless David.”
- He wanted to go on an LDS mission in 2009, but his former record label, Jive reminded him that he was contractually obligated to deliver more music.
On coming out LGBTQIA+ “There are a lot of very attractive Lesbians”
- His parents never talked to him about puberty. When his body began to change, he didn’t understand what was happening. “I didn’t know what wet dreams were. I didn’t know what arousals were. I didn’t know that hair was going to be growing in parts of my body. All that was foreign to me. I didn’t know. And so I was freaking out.”
- His LDS mission in 2012 helped him come to terms with his attraction to guys. He came out to his family as gay in 2014. But the LDS church’s devotion to heterosexual families influenced him to continue to pursue women. He did feel some attraction to them. “I thought, like, I may be attracted to guys, but eventually, I’ll be able to make marriage work because that’s just how it is.”
- After a relationship with a woman fell apart in May, he found himself in a very dark place. A month later he came out on Instagram as LGBTQiA+
- David is attracted to androgyny. In October when this interview took place, David commented on the kinds of women he finds attractive: ““There are a lot of very attractive lesbians — the ones who, like, have a masculine energy to them.”