‘The Masked Singer’ Finale: Macaw’s Persona Helped Them Embrace Being Part of the LGBTQ Community

“I was learning how to show my true colors,” he tells TheWrap

Macaw performs in the “Season Finale” episode of "The Masked Singer" (Courtesy of Michael Becker/FOX)

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Wednesday night’s episode of “The Masked Singer”

As “The Masked Singer” came to a close with its Wednesday finale, runner-up Macaw revealed his identity as none other than “American Idol” Season 7 runner-up David Archuleta, who leaned into his character’s exuberant persona to embrace his true colors after recently coming out as queer.

“I was learning how to show my true colors — I had just come out to be a part of the LGBT community and that was something I was afraid of as well,” Archuleta told TheWrap, adding that the Macaw was a nod to his Latin identity and roots as the national bird of Honduras, where Archuleta’s mom is from. “I feel like stepping into being the Macaw was was also symbolic of me learning how to be comfortable stepping into accepting this part of my identity that I feel like I’ve always had in me, I’ve just never been willing to show and to explore.”

With the fear of something being wrong with him engrained in Archuleta since he was a little boy, pointing to his first crush on a boy in second grade, the singer also reckoned with the conflicting messages he received from his faith community about his sexuality in his emotional finale rendition of Celine Dion’s “All By Myself.”

“The religion I was in, was like, ‘it’s okay to be gay or part of the LGBT [community], but you have to be alone. You can’t have it because that’s not right for you to have it,’” Archuleta said. “But yet then, you spend the rest of your time in your community and they’re talking constantly about marriage — It’s the greatest joy you can experience and to have a companion in life, there’s nothing better. So it’s like, well, then why am I expected to be alone for the rest of my life?”

Instead, as Archuleta navigates his relationship with God or the greater power he believes is out there, he’s adopted a new outlook on how his faith might interact with his identity, saying “[the greater power] created you to be happy, it created you to be you, and you deserve to have companionship still, even if that doesn’t look the same way that people expect it to look.”

“It’s kind of going through the motions of ‘I don’t want to be by myself and I’m not going to accept that. even though that’s what was told I was supposed to do,’” Archuleta said of performing Dion’s iconic ballad. “It’s kind of breaking free from those chains.”

Read on to learn how Macaw pushed Archuleta out of his comfort zone, which themed nights he wishes he had gotten to perform in and why every day on the show felt like walking into Disneyland.

TheWrap: You’ve mentioned that you were nervous to enter the competition space again, but becoming Macaw helped you feel more comfortable. How did this persona help you lean into this environment?

Archuleta: Being the Macaw who had elements that I was afraid [and] I shied away from, like having these big wings to show off these bright, vibrant colors, kinda a “look at me” style, was really not my nature. I think people even seen sometimes there are moments where it’s like I’m intimidated by having these big wings I have to show off. But there are certain moments where I’m just like, ‘yes,’ I get to fly around the stage and just flop around and be present and let people know I’m here. I had to go out of my comfort zone. I had to I had to feel very uncomfortable at first try that in order to get the hang of it, and I feel like that was a really good exercise for me.

Only just two years ago you went through a difficult time undergoing vocal cord surgery. How has your relationship to music changed since then?

I’ve learned I had to appreciate my voice a lot more because just last year, I wasn’t able to speak for three months from February, March, April, and May was when I was able to start singing again — I had to do voice therapy. I just had to work my voice back up so that I can use it again. It just made me realize you have to take care of yourself. We’re not invincible and our strength comes from exercising and stretching and keeping our bodies and our vocal cords as healthy as we can so that they last.

“The Masked Singer” has some pretty strict protocols, was there anything that surprised you about the process?

You just have to be secretive, really, but they were so much fun — they made it really enjoyable and like a happy place. I felt sometimes like I was going to Disneyland because everyone was in a good mood and happy and feeling good and all its colors. It was really fun to be there and I’m just really grateful to them for making it such a positive experience. I don’t think they realize how healing of an environment it is for entertainers to just let loose and be silly and be fun and still perform and pour our hearts out.

Were there any themed nights you wished you had?

I was really hoping I could do ABBA night … I think I might have wanted to do ’80s night as well. I had country night and I still I still enjoyed being able to sing that.

What lessons have you learned from the process?

I learned that the way to grow is to go towards to try and things that you hadn’t tried before. That’s really scary, but being allowed colorful bird was great to stretch me and see like, “Hey, I can keep doing this, stretching myself and trying crazy things.” Maybe I’ll use more vibrant colors and be more present on stage like the Macaw pushed me to do.