10/31/2014 09:24 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How 'Star Search' Champ Sam Harris Hid His Sexuality In The '80s: 'It Was Messed Up' (VIDEO)

Before "The Voice" and "American Idol," there was "Star Search." Celebrities like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears all appeared on the classic talent competition back in the '80s -- and, as many know, they lost. It was a true feat to beat out the other "Star Search" contestants and take home the coveted $100,000 prize, and few are better known for that honor than the show's first grand prize winner, Sam Harris.

More than 30 years ago, Harris walked onto the "Star Search" stage in its first season and sang his heart out in powerful and emotionally charged performances. After competing successfully in show after show, Harris was crowned the male vocalist winner. His life seemed to change overnight: He landed a record deal, he had an adoring fan base and began churning out chart-topping songs.

But while Harris was becoming a household name, he was also hiding a secret.

"The great irony of that period around 'Star Search' for me was that interviewers were always told, 'Don't ask him about his personal life,'" Harris says in the above video from "Oprah: Where Are They Now?". "Which was code for, 'He's gay. And we don't talk about it.'"

Throughout his rise to fame, Harris hid his sexuality. "You know, this was in the '80s," he says.

Today, Harris is happily married to Danny Jacobsen, whom he's been with since 1994, but felt the pressure to maintain a heterosexual public image all those years earlier as a young, upcoming star.

"When I would go to the Grammys or I'd go to an event, I would have a girl on my arm," he says. "It was a lie. It was messed up."

Sam Harris' full interview airs on "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" this Sunday, Nov. 2, at 9 p.m. ET on OWN. Find OWN on your TV.

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