Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thoughts on Clay - and being gay...

Clay Aiken 'Yes I'm gay' People magazine cover. Exactly two years ago today I wrote a blog post entitled Is Clay gay or straight? It's none of your business! It's still one of my most-visited posts, and I suspect that won't change any time soon.

It was written with passion and quite a bit of righteous indignation, and I'm happy to say that everything I wrote is as true today as it was then.

Exactly two years ago today I wrote:

If Clay came out next week and told the world that he's gay, I would shrug my shoulders and say "Oh well, good for him, I'm glad he feels that the time is right for him to come out, and I hope he's found a good man who will love and cherish him forever"... and then I'd go back to enjoying his music and admiring his character and integrity.

And if he announced next week that he's fallen in love with a beautiful woman and they're planning to get married and have dozens of babies, I would say "Oh well, good for him, I'm glad he's found the girl of his dreams who will love and cherish him forever - so when's that CD of lullabies going to be released?"... and then I'd go back to enjoying his music and admiring his character and integrity.

I would never have expected that a combination of both those scenarios would turn out to be the case - but then 5 years of being a member of the ClayNation has demonstrated to me that Clay doesn't always take the obvious or easy road! :)

What I do know today is that I'm enormously happy for him, and I'm hugely impressed by the decision he's made to be open about his homosexuality - as a gift to his baby son Parker. Wow. And what a cutie he is! (Parker I mean - though his dad's not bad either!)

Two years ago, Clay said that it was no-one's business whether he was gay or straight. He said he was so sick of people assuming he was lying when he said he wasn't gay, that he had decided to simply stop answering the question at all.

Exactly two years ago today I wrote:
How would you feel if complete strangers insisted on speculating publicly about your love life, asked you intrusive questions about whether you preferred men or women, and then completely ignored your answer and carried on believing what they believed in the first place, regardless of the answer you'd given?

I believe that everyone has the right to self-identify in terms of their sexuality - and that they also have the right to have that self-identification accepted and supported by those around them. Sadly, Clay has not been afforded that right by many people over the past five years.

No-one has the right to go burrowing into the private life of someone else without asking - and it doesn't matter whether that person is famous or not - in my opinion it's still not OK. Your sexuality, or mine, or Clay's, is nobody's damn business but our own.

It's clear that Clay has reached this point in his journey in his own time, and in his own way. It's not for me to speculate how long he's known that he is gay, and whether or not he was telling the truth two years ago. It's none of my business whether he's been in the closet for years, or in denial, or whether he has arrived at his current definition of his sexuality through a gradual process of self-understanding. That's his business, and the business of those who love him and share his life.

I have many gay friends, some of whom are out and have been for years, others of whom have only come out recently. Some are out in all aspects of their life; others are out with their friends and family, and remain in the closet at work. I know gay people who have come out after years of being in heterosexual relationships, and I know people who have come out after years of marriage.

Some people take years to understand who they truly are (heck - I certainly don't "get" myself half the time!) - and this can include a definition of their sexuality. Each of us is unique, and our paths in life are our own. It shouldn't be this way, but it's true that being openly gay can have some seriously bad repercussions for some people in some situations.

Although all my gay friends are happy with who they are, and who they love, I can't say that it has always been the case for all of them. And I also can't say for sure that I have no "straight" friends who are actually gay but unwilling to come out. Who knows? I do know that I would love every one of them just as much if tomorrow they told me they were gay (and vice versa!)

When Clay said he was straight, the fandom as a whole accepted that, and (mostly) didn't question it. Why? Because it was the right thing to do - the polite and respectful thing to do. Now that he's said he's gay, the fandom accepts that too. And the vast majority of the ClayNation will go on loving Clay just as much as they did yesterday, if not more.

Exactly two years ago today I wrote:
Why would a person's sexual orientation affect the way I feel about them? I have straight friends and I have gay friends - and their private lives have nothing to do with our friendship. I love them all, regardless of whom they choose to make love with. It's the same with the artists, musicians, actors and performers whom I admire - why would the gender of the people they love have any effect on the fact that I love the way they paint/sing/dance/act? I just don't understand why some people might think that it would make a difference to the way I respond to their art.

...and I feel exactly the same way today.

It's a nice synergy that my top three male voices of all time are Freddie Mercury, George Michael, and Clay Aiken. Each has a voice in a million, legions of fans, and each has taken his own journey to self-discovery - which has included, for each of them, a moment when they knew that it was the right time to be open about their sexuality.

I feel a huge amount of respect for Clay. I am incredibly impressed that, deeply private person though he is, he has decided to come out because he doesn't want to bring up baby Parker "to lie or to hide things". That is an incredibly brave decision to make, in my opinion, and I imagine a very emotional one. I'm so happy for him that he's decided to make it - and I know he will find it to be the right one.

This Clay Aiken fan ain't going nowhere - but you knew that already, didn't you?

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The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

Wonderful blog and thank you for posting it.

Carolina Clay said...


Excellent blog! You have written much of what many Clay fans are feeling -- this one anyway.

Thank you for your thoughtful reflections.


Anonymous said...

*Applauding!* Everyone's personal life is just that. Personal. (DUH, do you wonder some people can't figure out why it's called a personal life?)
What they chose to make public is completely separate, and makes no difference in how caring they are, how good of an individual they are. That is measured by their actions. This is another fan who is going NOWHERE!

Anonymous said...

unfortunately there are many small minded people in our world. For me nothing will ever change and "I came for the voice and stayed for the man". His tireless work for children has always been a cause I've supported and love him the same. Bravo for your view!! I rarely post on line, but had to say way to go!! Hugs "cricket"

groovykarma said...

You said it all when you stated 'it's nobody's business'.
fifty - seventy five years ago this
subject was kept private. The industry kept it quiet because it is
a personal issue and as such was private.
I rather wish this was still the case. I'd hate to think that eventually we will have to have a sign on us to notify people our sexual orientation.
We don't have to reveal this on our job applications; so why do celebrities have to inform us of their private sexual orientation?
It's nobody's business !

Anonymous said...

I love and support Clay Aiken regardless.

Anonymous said...

Clay will always be my idol!


Jenny from Sweden said...

I agree with every word you wrote. I'm so proud of Clay and to be a fan of his, and I always will be. I love him for his talent, charisma and humor. I admire him for his intelligence and what he does with his foundation and for UNICEF. Clay is one amazing human being. I couldn't care less about his sexuality. But, I'm happy for him that he's finally come out and can now live his life to the fullest. His son is beautiful and I'm just soo happy for Clay.

Ashes said...

Perfectly said and so right on the money. I love and support Clay, always have, always will.

Pam in the #1 Red State Indiana said...

Clay never ceases to amaze me with his confidence, maturity & knack for nearly always doing & saying the right thing at the right time. This is a glorious, loving, freeing gift for his adorable son. Do I have a right to be proud? You betcha!

Anonymous said...

I just want to say "Thank You" for stating so eloquently how I feel. I have loved Clay Aiken from the beginning and I will continue loving him. I admire Clay for "who" he is and not "what" his or "who he sleeps with". Frankly, I don't care, and it's really none of my business. I just want to say that I will love Clay "Always and Forever" and I am proud to use the name NMClaymate.

Anonymous said...

I watched Clay Aiken on American Idol, I wanted him to be the one to win, he deserved it. I still think it is none of anyone's business what his sexual preference is, how would everyone like to announce to the world what their sexual preference was and be judged on that alone even though they have other qualities. I love Clay and I am proud of him for his belief's and for his accomplishments. He should be able to live a happy life without having to confess to the world anything about his personal life. His music and singing with passion and his love for the children should be enough to tell us that he is a special person and not someone who plays around with life, he cherishes his life and now his son. I'm sure he will be a great Father and a great role model. I think that the public has no business asking him to justify his life to them. The fans are fans because of the songs that he sings with feeling and emotion, and because of all the help that he has given to children; not for who he's sleeping with this week or next. Good for you Clay and May God Bless you and Parker, your close friends and the rest of your family.