On Tuesday, Dec. 21, Archuleta’s worlds of the church and vocal performance will collide, as he shares the stage with the Turtle Creek Chorale, a predominately queer men’s chorus for a special holiday show called Turtle Creek Chorale Presents an Evening with David Archuleta. Although he's performed with various choruses throughout his childhood and his professional career, this show, which will take place at First United Methodist Church Richardson, will be the first time Archuleta performs an entire show with an all-male chorus.
“My manager approached me with this opportunity,” Archuleta says. “It was something new to me. I hadn't seen something like this before — a Methodist church, with a predominantly gay men's chorus. And I was like, ‘Wow, that's so interesting, because it's like these two worlds that I always felt were a bit conflicting in my mind and the way that I had grown up. I felt like it was an interesting opportunity to step into those two worlds together.”
Last May, Archuleta released an album called Therapy Sessions, which, as its title suggests, was inspired by his time in therapy. Seeing a therapist helped Archuleta understand his personal behaviors that he says were a response to trauma, and it also helped him deal with the aftermath of becoming a public figure at age 17.
Now 30, Archuleta has learned to cope with internalized conflict. He's accepted the fact that religion and the LGBTQ+ community can coexist. He says he “probably wouldn’t” do another reality competition, as he didn’t like the spotlight, or being judged, but he's enjoying performing on his current Christmas tour — for new audiences and for the “archangels” who've been following him since the Idol days, including Turtle Creek Chorale artistic director Sean Baugh.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of David’s,” Baugh says. “He sings with such heart and devotion, it’s tough to not be entirely taken by his singing. Combine that with his charm, and boom, you have quite a talent. He just oozes sweetness on stage, and his audiences adore him for it … When David put his entire career and Mormon support on the line by publicly discussing his sexuality, I became an even bigger fan. This was a huge risk for him, and by doing so, he is making a huge difference in the issues of religion and equality.”
Archuleta says that growing up queer in the Mormon church took a mental and emotional toll on him. He suffered from feelings of despair, depression and numbness. In his coming out Instagram post, he revealed that he's kept his promise to save himself until marriage, but despite not having acted on his same-sex attractions, he remembers “constantly punishing” himself for having these attractions.
“I just dropped down on my knees and said, ‘God, if you're really there, and if you really have a plan for me, please remove this from me.’” –David Archuleta
“It’s like when you feel scared, or when you feel angry, or when you feel joy,” Archuleta says. “Usually you don't intend to feel that way. Like when someone comes around the corner and shouts ‘Boo,’ you don't plan to feel scared, but it just happens.”
Before finally coming to terms with his sexuality, Archuleta spent many nights praying for his desires to go away.
“I just dropped down on my knees and said, ‘God, if you're really there, and if you really have a plan for me, please remove this from me,’” Archuleta recalls. “‘Please take this away from me. I just can't deal with it anymore. It is too painful and torturous to feel this.’ And that's when He said, ‘David, you need to stop asking me this.’ And that took me aback. I said ‘What do you mean?’ And He said, ‘You can't change something that I intended. It doesn't matter how many times you asked me this, I'm not going to change something that I intended for you.’”
Since coming out, Archuleta says he's learned to love himself more and to feel more compassion for others. He also cites exercise as instrumental to his self-care routine. But he also enjoys Whataburger when he comes to Texas — though he says he probably won’t stop be stopping there during his Christmas tour.
“I try to not eat burgers when I'm on tour, just because they’re heavy on my stomach,” he says.
Following his Christmas shows, Archuleta will go on tour in February supporting Therapy Sessions. The tour was originally planned for 2020, but was postponed because of the pandemic. He looks forward to sharing anecdotes and breaking down his solo offerings during his appearance at the Turtle Creek Chorale holiday show, and at his upcoming Therapy Sessions tour.
“I like to talk about the songs in my shows,” Archuleta says. “So it'll be fun to share these stories, as well as the songs themselves. I’m looking forward to having fun and seeing people have a good time.”