'I conquered' - Dalton Harris says photo backlash helped him to find his strength
Dalton Harris had a tumultuous journey on the way to becoming last year's X Factor UK winner.
While taking part in one of the world's top singing competitions, the young singer had to face mountainous odds. For a moment, Harris had to bear the brunt of intense cyberbullying as a result of a photograph which caused serious backlash.
Despite the death threats that came in its wake, Harris said that the viral reaction to the photograph of him and a fellow contestant helped him to discover strength he didn't know he had.
"It seemed, at the time, that the entire island had so much hate and disgust for me, for a picture that was an actual funny instance of a wider moment, and made assumptions of me and my life," Harris said.
"I got videos of people brandishing guns, saying they would kill me because of an inaccurate assumption, because of a picture which was in light fun. I still understand that the only response that would have satiated the negative hateful folks was a homophobic one, and I am not homophobic. I respect different forms of socialisation, and I'm not at all worried about second guessing myself," the singer affirmed.
Harris said his biggest accomplishment was staying strong through that adversity, maintaining his composure to take home the win, regardless of social media backlash.
"I never knew I was that strong or resolute in my integrity and sense of character. Rising above all the hate was my biggest accomplishment, because I had to be at the top of my game, whilst taking on a task most people never have to deal with. I had a lot to do, and I did it. I conquered," he said.
But that is only one of the obstacles that Harris has had to overcome in recent years.
In 2017, Harris lost his voice for three months.
"I was not able to work or earn or make a sound. I underwent therapy and surgical attempts that cost me millions. I was depressed and felt hopeless, but never once thought about throwing in the towel. I eventually healed and went right back to work," he said.
These days, 'back to work' means hitting the road for the X Factor Live Tour alongside the other top 10 competition finalists.
It also means getting in the studio.
"For 2019, my plan is to continue recording, complete my album, learn more, maintain peace and just love. Growth is the only mission. I am so grateful. A country boy who was called all those names then, and even now. Never turned out bad, and I am just only starting," he said.