Australian Idol was once of the biggest reality shows on the small screen.
But as one contestant discovered, competing on the show wasn’t always a fast track to success and glory.
Just a teenager in 2007 when the season aired, the Christian-raised Ben revealed he was still grappling with his sexuality at the time.
Ben, now known as Ben Fraser, explained what he didn’t realise was that once under the spotlight, his sexuality identity would be under scrutiny which led to death threats and even physical violence.
“People were sending me letters on the internet telling me to kill myself, at age 16…it was a mixture of people wanting to marry me and have children with me, and then the opposite of that, which was ‘you should end your life, you homo’.” Ben revealed.
“The week before I left [Australian Idol] because I was young and rebellious, I went out with a bunch of people who I just met for a walk and I was physically attacked and had my jaw dislocated.”
Ben then went on to share further details of the horrific attack, shocking host Mark.
“I was not highly femininely dressed in any shape or form, so it showed me that people are ready to attack people regardless of what they even look like or how they present,” he said.
“But I pissed my pants, and I was bleeding all out my mouth, and I thought ‘this is traumatising’ and they were asking me for my phone and for years since then I’ve struggled to leave the house at night.”
Despite the attack, Ben went on to perform on Idol and kept details of his injuries under wraps from many people around him.
“I felt a huge shame around the fact that had happened, so I lied to the producers about it. And then they found out that I had lied, and they came down on me like a ton of bricks about the fact I had lied to them, and it was like, ‘I’m a child!’ I was ashamed that that had happened to me.”
If you or someone you know needs help, contact: beyondblue 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au; SuicideLine 1300 651 251; MensLine 1300 789 978; Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.