Sad reason Anthony Callea fled his first Australian Idol audition

Anthony Callea on The Celebrity Apprentice in 2021
Image: Nine

Anthony Callea has revealed his struggle with his sexuality in the early 2000s stopped him from auditioning for Australian Idol a whole year earlier.

The openly gay singer’s new memoir Behind The Voice: Dietro La Voce is out this week. In an excerpt, the 40-year-old has revealed he signed up for Australian Idol‘s first season in 2003, a year before he became a household name through the show.

But due to his state of mind at the time, he said he couldn’t go through with it.

That same day, Anthony recalled, he’d written a six-page letter to his parents “telling them that I was gay, that I hadn’t been able to tell them face-to-face, and detailing all that angst I’d been holding on to for years and years.”

“Music and singing were a distraction for me, so I chose a huge one this day,” he said of signing up for Idol season one, a huge opportunity for the aspiring musician.

“At this point, yes, I knew I was gay, but I couldn’t even say the word out loud.

“I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘I’m gay.’ The shame and embarrassment were too much and I hated myself.”

Anthony recalled lining up for the Australian Idol audition feeling “anxiety, fear and sadness”. When his number was called, he said, “I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t move a muscle.”

“I covered up the number on my chest and remained quiet. They probably called it three or four times before moving on to the next,” he wrote.

“When they stopped saying my number, I fled the room, assuming I was being discreet. But I can only imagine how obvious I was.

“I was too scared to go into the audition. But I couldn’t go home, either, because I was terrified of what my family’s reaction would be.”

‘You haven’t done anything wrong’

He checked into a hotel and turned his phone off. But he didn’t know his parents had missed the letter he’d left at home and were panicked by his disappearance.

“All that worry because I was embarrassed to face them,” he said.

“When you come out to your parents, no matter how loving and supportive they have been all of your life, you just don’t know how they will react.

“Humans tend to fear the unknown. I was ashamed of myself, so I could only guess how ashamed they were of me.

But when the singer returned home, his parents embraced him tightly and “didn’t let him go.”

“My dad came in and sat on the edge of the bed. He was very quiet,” he said.

“I was so sure this bombshell I had just dropped, this fact that I was gay, would make them disappointed in me.

“Finally, he just said, ‘There is nothing wrong with you, Anthony. You haven’t hurt anyone. You haven’t done anything wrong. We love you. What can Mum and I do to help you?’

“I can’t describe how this made me feel; it gives me goosebumps reliving it.”

Anthony said, “This build-up of fear and anxiety in me for so many years was met with love, acceptance and wanting to help. Not what I was expecting at all.

“In hindsight, of course, I should have expected nothing else. But you know what they say about hindsight.”

But Anthony acknowledged the “fear of rejection we build in our heads has unfortunately become a reality” for many others.

Anthony Callea got death threat ahead of Australian Idol finale

Anthony Callea would later publicly open up about his sexuality in 2007, a few years after he was runner-up to Casey Donovan on Australian Idol season two.

The singer married his husband, actor and performer Tim Campbell, in 2014.

Anthony has previously spoken about a horrifying death threat during his season on Australian Idol in 2004.

The letter threatened Anthony Callea with death if he won the show, forcing the production to beef up security ahead of the live finale.

Anthony Callea’s autobiography Behind The Voice: Dietro La Voce is out on April 5.

Read more: Anthony Callea celebrates 40th birthday with wild white party

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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