"I think your personal life and your job are two different things," the flamboyant Noriega told reporters during a Friday conference call when the subject was broached. "I think people should respect that and know the fine line between that. Privacy is really important."
Noriega attributed the YouTube videos -- one of which was a profanity-laced rant against Christmas -- to be a product of his youth.
"That's something that is so forever ago that I used to do. It was almost like another person ago," he said. "That was when I was younger, it was more like an acting thing. I used to do personalities... It's more of like an acting show that I used to put on for YouTube."
Regardless, Noriega said it was "really weird" to have those videos surface while he was trying to further himself as a singer.
"Something little like that, that was made for humor -- rude humor -- but can be blown up out of proportion and kind of shown as your character," he said. "That's not the kind of person that I am. I just think it's pretty sad that people would do that just to tear down somebody's success. We're all trying to be something in life right now. We don't understand why people would try to cut us down by doing negative things like that. It's pretty sad to me."
Despite avoiding direct questions about his sexuality, the 18-year-old from Azuza, CA said he was aware right from the beginning of the competition that he wasn't like any of his fellow semifinalists.
"You always want to stay true to yourself. I'd see the other contestants -- we're all different -- but I definitely was really, really different," he explained. "I wasn't trying to be different, it just came naturally I guess. It's always important to stay true to yourself. I think that's the main key of the competition."
Because Noriega felt staying true to himself was so important, he said he didn't heed the advice of others who suggested he tone down his personality during the show.
"I got that a lot," said Noriega of the suggestions. "I didn't really listen."
The main reason why Noriega was so adamant about portraying who he really is had to do with his Idol sixth-season tryout when he didn't make it past the Hollywood Round.
"I was just totally not being myself," he explained. "I was just kind of creating an image -- trying to find something that I thought the judges would like rather than being myself -- because I was more afraid of what they would think of me. This year, I decided to just be myself and see if it would work. It definitely worked."
Noriega made it to the cusp of becoming one of Idol's seventh-season Top 12 finalists until he was eliminated during last Thursday night's results show broadcast.
"I was semi-surprised," he said of his ouster. "I always go into the results not knowing what to expect because they're so unpredictable. But I definitely had a little bit of confidence because you get all the fan mail from these kids and stuff and you think you're doing something right. I definitely thought I was kind of doing good for a second. But it is what it is."
Despite the fan mail he received, Noriega said he has an idea what ended his Idol experience.
"You can't please everybody," he said. "I guess the majority of the votes just didn't like me. But that's that -- it is what it is. I can't change myself for anybody."
Someone who appreciated Noriega for being himself was Top 12 finalist Ramiele Malubay, whom Noriega said he couldn't even look at when his ouster was revealed because he knew she'd be crying.
"She and I are like best friends right now. We started talking at the end of Hollywood Week and we grew to be really close," he explained. "We're just really close. We have a lot in common. She's my little twin!"
While Noriega plans on continuing his singing career, he knows his Idol appearance goes beyond music.
"I love the little fans letter that I'm getting from these little kids that are telling me that they admire me for being myself. I showed them that you can be different and still be successful," he said. "I really like to inspire those little kids that think that they can't do anything because they're different in certain ways -- whether it's sexuality or their race or anything like that. It's fine to be yourself and be successful."
(Photo credit Fox)
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