Living his truth! Sanjaya Malakar came out publicly as bisexual in a new interview on Monday (Aug. 22), 15 years after making his mark on American Idol season six.
“I identify as bisexual,” he stated during an appearance on The Adam Sank Show podcast. “At the time, I did not know, which is why it was so weird to me. At the time of American Idol, I had a serious, long-term girlfriend. I was exploring my life as a child. American Idol happens and it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s gay,’ and now I have to say no, because they’re forcing me to make a decision and define myself.”
Now 32, Malakar claims he was pressured to hide his identity during his run on the show, which at the time was at the height of its popularity and ratings dominance. “They’re like, ‘Tell everyone you’re single, be ambiguous, no one needs to know anything about anything because you don’t want to lose your fans,” the singer recalled. “I’m like, OK, why am I manipulating what I know about myself to figure out what kind of fans I’m going to get, because I’m still trying to figure out who I am?”
During the chat, the Idol alum also shared his unfiltered thoughts about Simon Cowell, who often lambasted him during the show with the harshest critiques of the season. “For me it was like, it’s really sad that this is what you have to do to be somebody,” he said of the judge. “But you’ve chosen this path in your life, so that’s fine, f–k you, I have plenty that I could say to you, but in this moment, my job is to stand here and listen and be the sweet little boy.”
While Jordin Sparks would eventually go on to win the season’s crown, Malakar ultimately placed seventh with memorable performances of classics including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Bésame Mucho” and Bonnie Raitt‘s “Something to Talk About.”
Listen to Malakar’s full interview on The Adam Sank Show below.