Growing up in the suburbs of Sydney, Alfie Arcuri hid his sexuality from everyone. In fact, he even frequently used Google to search how to cure himself of being gay.
Now, at 31 years old, he’s ‘very gay’, happily partnered and wouldn’t change a thing.
But it wasn’t an easy road.
Arcuri grew up in Sydney’s south-west suburb of Camden — an area that only narrowly voted in favor of marriage equality during Australia’s public vote in 2017.
‘I spent most of my childhood and teenage years petrified about coming out because I realized I was gay when I was 11,’ he exclusively told Gay Star News. ‘The the notion of being gay was always a taboo in my family and I guess very much in the area that I grew up in.’
Coming from a large religious Italian-Australian family, he thought they’d ‘disown’ him if he came out.
He said: ‘As a teenager, I would Google how to cure myself.’
‘I’d go to school and the way I’d walk or talk — I’d always be thinking about that to make sure that no one knew I was gay. I just remember it being this constant burden.
‘Every day for me was like a constant battle. I was constantly depressed, anxious, scared.’
Aflie Arcuri: ‘I got caught out on a cruise with my family’
It wasn’t until he was at university that he came to terms with his sexuality.
Arcuri started seeing a psychologist to help him cope with his sister’s cancer diagnosis. He said his psychologist was the first person he came out to.
‘I had never actually said that I was gay out loud,’ he revealed. ‘[But] within the first 10 minutes, she got it out of me.’
He then added: ‘I remember just crying. It was this massive relief.’
For Arcuri, coming out to his family was a little bit more tricky and didn’t exactly go according to plan.
He went on a cruise with all of his extended family — grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins — and he met a cute gay couple.
‘I was kind of scared to be seen with them or spend too much time with them because… there was this stigma [in my mind] about “these gay people”. I tried to meet these guys and I remember it was New Year’s Eve. We became friends and then one thing led to another.
‘I ended up getting caught with these boys the next day in their room by one of my family members.
‘So I was actually forced to come out to my sisters that day.
‘They were crying and I was crying but they were crying because they were so sad that they didn’t know,’ he said.
His sisters told his parents while they were on the cruise, then the news spread across his whole family over the next month.
‘It was the best way possible because I didn’t have to tell anybody. It was like the Italian grapevine and I haven’t looked back since,’ he said.
Gaining national attention
By the age of 26, Alfie Arcuri was out and open to everyone.
Then in 2016, he entered the fifth series of The Voice Australia, a reality television singing show — and won.
He signed with Universal Music Australia and released his debut studio album in July 2016, entitled Zenith. It peaked at number five on the ARIA Charts.
Since then, Arcuri found love, heartbreak, love again and happiness within himself.
Arcuri’s previous partner’s family didn’t approve of them living openly gay, so his song If They Only Knew is about that. Then his new song Same is about heartbreak and reconciling similar characteristics between previous partners to a new partner.
‘Basically, I was heartbroken and I pretty much straight away tried to replace him with someone else,’ he explained. ‘Funnily enough, the guy that I met afterwards had a lot of similar traits. To me, they looked similar, they acted kind of similar.’
He then added: ‘But very quickly, I realized you actually can’t replace a person. Everyone is unique and that’s the premise of the song.’
Arcuri said he was also very conscious about writing a love song featuring two men.
‘As a teenager, I would always sing along to songs that were written by men and were about women, or the other way around.
‘It’s really important to me that, in all the music I write, it’s very authentic. I don’t like to hide gender in my music,’ he said.
The young gay singer actually had a kid message him on Instagram to say how much he appreciated the authenticity of the male pronouns featured in the love song.
Arcuri has been together with his current partner for two years now. They even have a little French bulldog called Gary and cat called Priscilla together.
Turning his back on religion
Alfie Arcuri has a complicated relationship with religion.
Having grown up in a Catholic household, it’s hard for him to reconcile his faith with his sexuality.
‘Everything that I would find, from my religion would lead me to believe that the way I was was no good,’ he said. ‘Or that I was sick, or that I was in need of fixing. As a teenager, that didn’t help me at all.’
He then explained his parents stopped going to church after he came out to them. His mom even said she ‘felt guilty’ for making him go as a child, while he was struggling with his sexuality.
Arcuri said he’s not religious anymore and he lost his faith in religion, so now his faith is ‘just love’.
‘I don’t have anything against religion,’ he said. ‘I think it’s beautiful and I just try to be the best person I can.’
So it ‘baffles’ Arcuri when he hears about the debate in Australia at the moment surrounding religious freedom to discriminate.
‘They want the freedom to be able to demonize another minority group,’ he explained.
When asked about rugby star Israel Folau’s religious freedom to post an Instagram photo that states ‘hell awaits’ gay people, Arcuri responded: ‘I read it and instantly had that feeling in my stomach that I used to have as a teenager when I would see things like that on the news.’
He then added: ‘I thought to myself: Imagine how 14-year-old Alfie would feel seeing that.’
Arcuri said it’s ‘incredibly dangerous’ for kids to see stuff like that and they need proper ‘protection’ from it.
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