For David Hernandez, the road to success and self-acceptance hasn’t been easy. After years of battling self-esteem issues, music industry obstacles, and those pesky rumors about his sexuality, Hernandez recently came out in an interview with Out magazine.
With a new single titled Beautiful, and its accompanying video directed by Printz Board (of Black Eyed Peas fame), Hernandez is ready for his turn in the spotlight. On November 12, the former American Idol contestant arrives in the Alamo City for a performance at the Bonham Exchange Nightclub. We caught up with Hernandez who revealed to us the inspiration behind his latest work and what it takes to win a date with him.
Congratulations on your recent coming out. Would you say your fears about coming out publicly were unwarranted and do you regret not coming out sooner?
I don’t think my fears were unwarranted – I think everyone comes out on their own time. I had a really different kind of childhood – I grew up in a Mexican American family that was very religious. A lot of the things I talk about now really weren’t acceptable to talk about growing up like that. I had girlfriends, I went to college, I was signed to a label where I did the photo shoots with the half-naked girls and sang the songs I didn’t really want to sing, all because I had a dream of doing what I do now for a living. I was willing to do anything possible. I didn’t want to sacrifice my career just because…well, I didn’t want to be who I was because I thought it was going to sabotage my career. Fast-forward ten years later and we are living in a whole different time now. Ten years ago, we weren’t as progressive as we are now with equality. So that’s how things unfolded for me but I don’t really regret coming out sooner because everything happens as it’s suppose to.
Talk about the concept behind your new single and video Beautiful.
Honestly, when I first heard the song I just fell in love with it. I just thought it was a great concept and it was positive. With everything going on in the world, I felt it was a song that could inject some light and positivity. We see all over the news about people dying – and all the negative news – so when I heard the song and recorded the vocal, I immediately had an idea for the video with a buddy of mine. Originally, the video was going to be shot with everyone being completely naked…But we refined it a bit and it actually came out better than I originally thought. We wanted to show the love that the couples had for each other, and the self-love. All these people in the video have overcome these different struggles and you didn’t need them to be naked to show that.
How do you relate to the song personally?
I relate to it so deeply because growing up and stuff, my parents divorced when I was two. I lived with my mom till I was about seven and then I lived with my dad. I had siblings and stuff, but there was always this constant need for solid ground. I don’t think that I’ve even found that yet, even now into my adulthood. It’s always been a struggle with my sexuality and my confidence, my self worth, and my image, you know. When people see pictures and stuff, I’m giving you my best angles. When you see me in real life, I’m not what I look like in those pictures – most of us aren’t. People have this idea that you should be perfect because you’re in show business or you’re an entertainer but the truth is that I’m not. I get picked apart on social media. You know, some of those things I’m really insecure about – people comment about it on YouTube. It’s like what!? I’m human! For me, this song is just an affirmation for feeling beautiful….
I think this is a very timely video considering we have a presidential candidate who has famously stated that “its hard to be a ten when you’re flat-chested.” Its not often we see music videos were the artists are open to diversity, and different orientations and body types.
Yeah, this song could have easily just been a love song but I said lets think outside the box and be inclusive and listen to everyone’s struggles. Like I said, everything happens in a divine order for me – the coming out happened when it was suppose to, the video, the music. This is my first major release in three and a half years and it all just came at the right time which I’m super thankful for. Not to sound arrogant but I think we all needed some more positive messages out there than what we are seeing from someone who’s running for president right now.
There are a couple of models in the video that really stand out. There is the athletic guy with the prosthetic leg and of course the guy who is signing throughout the video. Do you remember shooting with them?
Absolutely, Jerome who is the deaf person – he was the first person to shoot because he had another audition. He made everyone cry actually. That was my first time meeting him and now we are great friends. But when I first walked onto the set, everyone’s eyes were red and I asked what’s going on. They said “we just shot a scene with Jerome and we all pretty much lost it.” And that was just the beginning of the day. As the rest of the day went on we had A. J., who is the amputee, we had the gay couple, we had the older couple…everyone was so emotional the entire time. It was pretty cool.
Will you address your sexuality in your music? That’s something that’s absent with some of the more visible out stars like Sam Smith and Adam Lambert.
It just depends. Honestly, I try to make my stuff gender neutral because I want people to relate to it but if there were a particular song they sent out to me that was talking about a guy or specific relationship, I wouldn’t have a problem mentioning it. My sexuality is a part of who I am, but it’s not something I particularly lead with…I have no problem singing about it and I think that’s probably where Sam Smith and Adam Lambert stem from too. I mean, if there is some song that absolutely requires you to say “boy” then awesome…
It’s been about 8 years since you last appeared on American Idol. You were on season seven of course, with David Cook and David Archuleta and perhaps the biggest break-out star that season – Danny Noriega (aka Adore Delano). Do you still keep in touch with anyone?
Yeah I love Danny – we text occasionally. I call him Danny because that’s how I originally met him. I’m super proud of him – he’s an incredible person and an incredible singer. I’ve always thought that. We had a friendship on the show and then he went on to do his thing and I went on to do mine. I watched the recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars and I shot him a text – all is good. We have a tight knit family within the Idol community because there are not a whole lot of us that have been through this experience.
What’s your definition of beautiful?
It’s in the eye of the beholder – whatever you think is beautiful – different sizes and preferences. I mean that’s why I always laugh when I see “sexiest man alive” on the cover of a magazine. Who decided these things? It kind of baffles me. I mean, beautiful for me is intellect. If you want to get me to go on a date, take my mind in a fucking circle and make me think about things – give me some good conversation. I think beauty extends a lot deeper than just your appearance.
David Hernandez at Bonham Exchange, $5 for Adults and $15 for minors, Doors open at 8:00 p.m. Sat. Nov. 12, Bonham Exchange, 411 Bonham Street, (210) 224-9219, bonhamexchange.com