“People in the church think they need to choose one or the other, because you can’t do both. So, a lot of people who are gay, bisexual, etc., they want to fit in, they have a testimony and want to belong, but they don’t know how, so they leave. I was at that point too. … Then I realized, ‘No, this is exactly where I need to be, but maybe I need to help, maybe I need to have more conversations because I don’t think this is how God wants it to be. … He loves all his children.” — David James Archuleta
In recent days, more celebrities, prominent sports figures, and well-known entertainers have begun speaking more openly about their sexuality and identifying as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. There are even some primetime television shows that are beginning to include more LGBT characters (either real-life persons or those playing the part) as part of the show’s cast members.
Among those who have recently come out as being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community is Season 7 finalist of American Idol, 30-year-old David James Archuleta.
During Pride month 2021, which was celebrated in June, David, who is a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, published an Instagram post in which he announced that he is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. He asked that others show more compassion and understanding towards members of that community. He admitted that although he identifies with the community, he still has questions about how he identifies. Most importantly, no matter what people may think of him now, David wants people to understand that he is still “a man of faith and a child of God.”
In the Instagram post, David commented:
I’ve tried for almost 20 years to try and change myself until I realized God made me how I am for a purpose. And instead of hating what I have considered wrong I need to see why God loved me for who I am and that it’s not just sexuality. So many other traits of who I am come from how I’ve been created.
On Wednesday, 23 June 2021, in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Steve Osunsami, who identifies as gay, David, who normally likes to keep things like his sexuality to himself, said that after publishing the post it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off his shoulders. He no longer feels that he needs to hide a part of himself. He also confessed at that time that he has never dated a man. He said, “As I mentioned [in my post], I still believe in saving myself for marriage.”
David Continues to Hold Firm to His Faith and Beliefs
Since then, David has continued to tell his story and figure out his future. He says he will continue to live his Latter-day Saint faith and give devotional-style performances like the ones he gave at the end of October on the grounds of the Oakland California Temple, with the Temple Hill Symphony Orchestra in front of 3,000 people.
According to Debbie Bromley, one of Temple Hill’s communications directors, in between songs, David shared personal experiences and messages of choosing faith amid trials and knowing there is a place for everyone in God’s family. She said, “He was brilliant in the way he did it. It was very organic. He wasn’t preachy at all. He was just sharing these beautiful messages of hope and faith, and I think it resonated with a lot of people.” As a direct result of the concerts, Latter-day Saint missionaries began teaching several people.
David commented, “It goes with what I try to do, even in my pop shows, even if I’m not singing hymns and straight up talking about Christ and the gospel. I can help people feel His light and look within themselves to feel His love.”
He continued, “I still go to church every week. I still study and pray every day. I still meet with my bishop to keep myself on track. I still go to the temple. Nothing has changed other than the fact that I don’t date women.”
David is Learning to be True to Himself
David said that he now dates guys in the same way that he dated women. However, the thing that he wants to emphasize is that sex is not a part of it. He said, “Being gay doesn’t translate to sex. It’s just who we naturally connect with and have a bond with, the same way any heterosexual, faithful Latter-day Saint would want to bond and connect with someone.”
He hopes that by sharing his story and experiences, others like him will know they don’t have to suffer in silence or leave the church. He further commented, “There needs to be a way of knowing you can come as you are, live life as best as you can and still follow God, even if there aren’t clear answers right now.”
David also related his experiences to the title of his 2008 hit single, “Crush.” He told the Deseret News:
Here I am known for a song called, ‘Crush,’ and I always had such a hard time relating to the song because I didn’t understand what it meant to have a crush. People are singing along and telling me how they are relating to it and dedicated to their crush, and I was like, ‘I can’t relate.’ I don’t understand what it means. I’m crushed because I had blocked out those emotions, starting from a young age, because I was like, ‘That’s wrong.’ If I don’t know how to have those feelings for just girls, I don’t understand this. Every time my friends would talk about it, I would get uncomfortable.
David says that the first time that he was truly honest with himself about his sexuality was while he was serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South America from 2012 to 2014. Even though he was afraid of what a man would think of him being attracted to other guys, the first person that he talked to about his same-sex attraction was his mission president. David said, “. . .. he wasn’t afraid of me; he just gave me a hug and he didn’t condemn me. He didn’t make me feel like I was less than.” That helped David to finally believe that he could be loved no matter what.
David Considered Getting Married But to No Avail
Following his mission, David knew he was more attracted to guys than girls but thought he could still have a happy Latter-day Saint marriage and starting dating. He almost married on three different occasions, buying a wedding ring each time, but each relationship ended when he experienced a repeated cycle of emotions involving anxiety, anger, and resentment.
He told the Deseret News, “I had to be honest with myself. … I was with a girl, once again working toward marriage, and my anxiety attacks were getting so bad. My anger was getting so bad. I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this to this girl.’ It’s not fair to put someone through this just because I want to look like I’m doing the right thing. I need to deal with this.” He sought help through therapy.
After that relationship ended, David said he became “numb” to most relationships in his life and began to question his faith. He wondered if God had abandoned him and even considered taking his own life. He said, “I couldn’t feel anything for about a month and a half. I felt like I was in this dark cave. I couldn’t see anything.” He thought to himself, “Maybe it’s better that I’m not here anymore than to live in a way that isn’t how God would want me to be living.”
David Still Believes in the Power of Prayer
Despite his depression, David never stopped believing in the power of prayer. One day he dropped to his knees and began pleading with the Lord to take away his same-sex attraction. He was surprised by the answer he received to his prayer. He said, “God said, ‘David, you need to stop asking me this. I don’t see you the same way you see yourself. You need to understand this. You need to understand my purpose for you.’ He gave me permission to make mistakes.”
David admits that the road to coming to grips with his sexuality has not been an easy one. He further commented:
I feel like I don’t have anything to hide. I don’t have to hide that I’m attracted to guys. And I don’t have to hide that I still love God, and I trust in him as he leads me in this territory, I never imagined I would be in. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to let him go because the negative thoughts and voices in your head say you must. I feel like it’s maybe the closest I’ve ever been with him.
Please be compassionate. It’s something a lot of people go through silently because they are too afraid. That’s why I feel like we need to talk about this. I didn’t want to come out. I don’t want to make a big deal, like ‘Look at me.’ But I knew I had to and I needed to let other people know they are not alone. — David James Archuleta
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not take a position on the cause of same-sex attraction. In 2006, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction.” The Church’s website about same-sex attraction states, “The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin but acting on it is.” Those who do not act on their sexual identity, “enjoy full fellowship in the church, which includes holding the priesthood, carrying out callings, and attending the temple.”