Nov 29, 2022 - News

David Archuleta reflects on LDS church experience after coming out as gay

David Archuleta stands in a beige hoodie in front of a blue wall with ABC and American Idol logos.

David Archuleta attends an "American Idol" 20th season celebration that aired in May. Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images

David Archuleta is shedding light on his journey with the Mormon faith as he speaks out about stepping away from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • Archuleta, who rose to fame on American Idol, came out last year as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Driving the news: Archuleta said in recent interviews that high-ranking church leaders tried to convince him not to be gay.

  • He told ABC Nightline that an apostle said multiple times, "We just need to find you a good girl."
  • In his conversations with church leaders, Archuleta also faced an "assumption" that "all that [LGBTQ+ people] think about is sex. It's all about sex, and so people think it's an evil thing," he said earlier this month on Jennifer Hudson's talk show.
  • The church did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Why it matters: Those statements by church leaders contradict the church's public position that clergy "shouldn't … encourage heterosexual marriage for those who … identify as gay."

  • The church has taken steps away from past efforts to change sexual orientation, discontinuing electric-shock aversion therapy at BYU, and shifting away from previous advice that opposite-sex dating could reform a gay member.

Yes, but: Those steps have been halting and inconsistent.

  • In 2010, an apostle claimed in General Conference that being gay is a choice; the church then purged parts of that passage from the online transcript.
  • The church opposed Utah's ban on anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy in 2019, but later supported it after language protecting religious "discussion" was added.
  • The church in 2016 launched a website called "Mormon and Gay," for stories of LGBTQIA members. The URL now directs to the church's "Same Sex Attraction" page, and the only gay members on it are married to people of the opposite sex.

What they're saying: "That's not a solution," said Archuleta, who has said he's been engaged to three women but broke up before they were married — and those failed relationships drove him to suicidal thoughts.

  • "They were all wonderful girls," Archuleta told Hudson. "But you just think, 'I'm a failure.' So what should I do? I don't want to be evil in God's sight. … No matter how much you pray, how much you fast, you start thinking, 'Well, is it better if I'm not here anymore?'"

Between the lines: Asked about being one of the world's "most famous Mormons," Archuleta said church leaders "were very invested in me. They really wanted to know how I was doing, that I was progressing — which meant marriage."

  • Nightline footage at Temple Square shows missionaries surrounding Archuleta for selfies as the reporter says, "It was clear why he says the apostles were trying so hard to change him and keep him in the church."
  • Church-owned and Mormon-related media have previously elevated queer members who later began dating the same sex or left the church after celibacy or mixed-orientation marriages — but Archuleta is in another league of fame.

The bottom line: Archuleta's disclosures about the church could make it more difficult for leaders to convince people that a realistic path exists for queer members in the faith as long as they don't "act on it."

Anyone who is contemplating self-harm can reach the national crisis line by calling or texting 988.

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