Sanjaya Malakar, who rose to fame on the sixth season of American Idol in 2007 when he was just 16, has announced he is bisexual. The 32-year-old Seattle native, who is now a pastry chef and bartender, made the announcement on the Aug. 22 episode of The Adam Sank Show, a DNR Studios podcast, per People. He also noted that despite the media questioning his sexuality when he was on the singing competition show and during his fame after, he did not know if he identified in a certain type of way, especially considering he had a longtime girlfriend. “At the time, I did not know, which was why it was so weird for me,” he noted.
However, Sanjaya added that his sexuality was questioned before he made it on to television. “I had a hard time figuring out how to interact with young boys because my dad’s from India and grew up in a temple, so there was never like, ‘This is how you are a boy. And then, my mom is an A-type personality, Italian-American woman, and [so are] her sisters and my sisters and all of that, so growing up I was already the awkward theater kid,” he recalled. “But I don’t know. Everyone keeps telling me that I am gay, and I’m like, 7. I don’t even have any attraction to anyone, so why are you telling me this?”
Sanjaya also recalled how frustrating it was to have to address the situation at all, and more so how to concoct the best statement regarding his love life. “I was exploring my life as a child, and then American Idol happened, and everyone was like, ‘Oh, he’s gay.’ And I was like, ‘OK, well now I have to say no, because at this point they’re forcing me to make a decision and define myself,’” he noted.
He faced similar concerns when his publicists were trying to guide him through the situation. “All of my publicists were like, ‘Oh, just 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 musician explained. “And I’m like, ‘OK, but why am I manipulating what I know of myself to figure out what kind of fans I’m going to get because I’m still trying to discover who I am?’”
At the time of the interview, Sanjaya said he is single, but it’s “complicated.”
Aside from figuring out his love life, Sanjaya is working on his pastry skills, mixing skills, and his music. He last released an album on Bandcamp in 2020, which contained one cover: Billie Eilish’s‘s “Ocean Eyes”. He also released a single in 2020, “Fragile”, which is a cover of Sting and Stevie Wonder‘s collaboration from Sting’s 60th birthday concert.