American Idol’s Sanjaya comes out as bisexual and says he was told to be ‘ambiguous’

Sanjaya Malakar comes out as bisexual. (Getty/Envato)

American Idol finalist Sanjaya Malakar has come out as bisexual and spoke about the pressures he faced on the show.

Malakar was only 17 when he appeared on the singing contest in 2006, and was subjected to bullying from fans, judges and comedians for his singing, hairstyle and speculated sexuality.

At the time, he said, he was in a serious relationship with a woman and was “exploring” his life.

“Then American Idol happened,” Sanjaya told the Adam Sank Show podcast, “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 are forcing me to make a decision and define myself.

“I grew up in a time when being called a f****t in school was the worst thing that could ever happen to you. You had to be as hyper-masculine as possible to fit in, and coming up in 2007, it was like ‘being gay is OK but you have to define yourself and there’s ‘this’ or ‘that’.

He added: “I identify as bisexual, at the time I did not know – which was why it was so weird.”

Sanjaya Malakar on American Idol

Sanjaya Malakar during his time on American Idol. (Lester Cohen/WireImage)Getty/Envato

Sanjaya, now 32, he has since left the music industry and now works as a pastry chef and bartender.

Reflecting on his upbringing, he spoke about being raised by women and having “a hard time figuring out how to interact with young boys”.

He said his father, who was from India, never taught him “how to be a boy”.

“Growing up I was already the awkward theatre kid. I always got along with theatre kids, with gays kids and girls, so I was like: ‘OK these are my people,'” he added.

“But I don’t know, everyone keeps telling me that I am gay and I’m like seven. I don’t even have any attraction to anyone so why are you telling me this?”

‘Tell everyone you’re single. Be ambiguous’

He also spoke about pressure from  publicists to not come out or address speculation.

“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,” he recalled them saying.

Although the podcast appearance marked Sanjaya Malakar’s coming out publicly, he said he has never felt the need to come out to his family.

For me, at this point I don’t really care about what people know of my sexuality, and if I got into a serious long-term relationship with a guy I would bring him to my family, and they’d be like, ‘Oh, cool’,” he said.

He clarified while he is currently single he did recently reconnect with someone, but that: “It’s complicated all the time.”