David Archuleta had one massive hurdle to overcome in self-identifying as a queer person – his religion. The singer and American Idol alum came out in June of 2021, and in a new interview with PEOPLE he discusses the "faith crisis" that held him back from the realization for years. He also explained his new relationship with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – or, the Mormon church.
Archuleta grew up in Utah where the Mormon church thrives, and he was raised in a church community that condemned same-sex relationships. He now believes that he was repressing his own same-sex attraction during that time and that this denial extended well into his adulthood. Archuleta was engaged to a woman up until May of 2021. Even after calling off his engagement, he did not arrive at any immediate conclusions about his sexuality, but during Pride month of 2021 he decided to make a post stating that his a part of the LGBTQ+ community one way or another.
Now, Archuleta said that coming out has caused him to have a "faith crisis "that's pretty much rocked my world." He described spiraling into depression and even admitted that he suffered from suicidal ideation at the worst of his low points. He said: "I thought it would be a better choice to just end my life." Archuleta said that he is still processing these feelings, but he finally believes he is on the mend. He said: "I'm finally learning what it's like to actually love myself. I feel liberated."
The current Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' position on same-gender attraction is unclear and is often debated among church members and critics alike. The church sets high standards for "sexual purity" among its members, including abstinence from pre-marital sex and masturbation. ChurchOfJesusChrist.org summarizes the most recent positions of church elders on this topic, which encourage church members to acknowledge feelings of same-sex attraction, though not necessarily to act on them.
Still, individual communities may be more or less accepting than others, and Archuleta has said that the community he grew up in was very conservative. He said that he took his religious doctrine very seriously, but that he found it too difficult to reconcile his sexuality with his spiritual beliefs. After experiencing suicidal thoughts he decided that he needed "a break from religion," and to separate these two aspects of himself because they are "very complicated."
"It hurts me because my religion was everything for me. But you get to a point where you realize there are some things not right here. I need to just live my life, because I already know I'm okay how I am," Archuleta said. He revealed that he has since dated men and believes that his mental health and his life overall are turning in a better direction. He said: "I've allowed myself to love myself for everything I am, to not be conditioned to shame myself – and to be not ashamed of who I am feels wonderful, because I didn't think it was ever okay to love myself."
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will always remain available.