‘American Idol’ Runner-up Candidly Reveals the “Significant Emotional Trauma” They Suffered While on the Show

David Archuleta was just 16 when he rose to fame on season 7 of American Idol. The ex-LDS Church member made it all the way to the finale before finishing second to David Cook. Now 33, Archuleta has since dropped eight studio albums, sold more than 1 million records, and began living his truth as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Despite Idol serving as a jumping-off point for his musical career, Archuleta’s experience wasn’t all roses—far from it. The “Hell Together” singer recently opened up about the “significant emotional trauma” he experienced during his time on the show.

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“You’re Programmed Not To Trust People”: David Archuleta Talks About ‘Idol’

In an interview published Saturday (June 1), Archuleta spoke to Forbes about the pressure to squash his sexuality while competing on Idol. Add that to the pressures of fame and performing, and it’s easy to see why the “OK, All Right” singer suffered from panic attacks and trust issues in the aftermath.

“You’re programmed not to trust people when you’re on the show, at least at the time we were on it,” Archuleta said. “I’ve spoken with former contestants who go back to appear on Idol, and they say, ‘I don’t know if I can handle this.’ And I’ve felt like that performing, too, terrified and wondering why it was affecting me that way.”

Archuleta emphasized that his trauma isn’t unique, either. “It’s not just me,” he said. “Several other contestants told me they thought they were the only ones going through this. It has affected many of us even years after being on the show.”

The Journey From Boy to Man: “I Felt Like I Found Myself!”

Archuleta eventually decided to openly embrace his sexuality. For him, this meant also leaving behind his Mormon faith and religion in general. After announcing his departure, Archuleta was shocked when his mother also decided to leave the church. The conversation they had would inspire his latest single, “Hell Together.”

[RE;ATED: David Archuleta on Coming Out, Leaving the Mormon Church, and Going Through “Hell” and Back to Make New Music and Write a Book]

“She said she was going to step away too and then said, “If you’re going to hell, we’re all going to hell with you,'” wrote the “I’m Yours” singer in a March 27 Instagram post.

He added, “This song is dedicated to those who show unconditional love in a world where it’s so easy to judge things we don’t fully understand, the way my mom showed that love to me.”

Featured image by Monica Schipper/Getty Images

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