I haven’t posted my final thoughts on the whole Clay coming out thing because I’ve been trying to think of something profound to say…
After all, this is about a lot more than just Clay. It’s about a lot of issues, most of which aren’t meant to be discussed in a blog about “American Idol.”
But all I can think about is a woman I saw while waiting in the souvenir line at my first Clay Aiken concert…
I would guess she was in her late 40s, as many of Clay’s fans are. What she needed to buy I’m not really sure since she was already dressed from head to toe in Clay paraphernalia. She and another middle-aged woman were looking at the back of a tour t-shirt and she was naming off all of the shows she had seen—which was all of them before this one. Then she told the other woman how disappointed she was that she was going to miss his next show because her daughter was having a baby.
I keep wondering how she feels now…
And then there was the woman—once again middle-aged—at the Ohio State Fair who was decked out in Clay-wear (including her purse), while her husband sat next to her sort of embarrassed. She too had seen Clay in concert numerous times and after meeting her, I think my fiancé felt a lot better about me dragging him to the concert. How does she feel now?
And what about the women in that same souvenir line that gushed about how perfect Clay would be for their daughters? Do they feel stupid now?
Do they all feel stupid now for giving up their lives to follow around a man who maybe isn’t who they thought he was?
It’s easy to see why the Claymates would be upset over this. Any time someone would question Clay’s sexuality, the Claymates would go after that person/website/show in mass, defending their guy while Clay stayed silent. How could Clay coming out now not seem like a betrayal? Especially when he flat out said he wasn’t in his “Rolling Stone” interview in 2003 (a fact that Clay apparently has forgotten since he told Diane Sawyer he never said he wasn’t).
But what I hope the Claymates understand is that no one can know what Clay has been feeling all these years. It’s easy to say that Clay kept his mouth shut for the sake of his career, but I think it goes deeper than that. After all, the first person he told wasn’t his mother or his brother. It was Kimberley Locke in 2003—just five years ago. I think he just didn’t know how to handle it on a personal level, let alone a professional one.
Let’s face it. There are men and women everywhere who are struggling to come out to their families without having to do it in the glare of the spotlight. Why would Clay be any different?
It’s also easy to chastise any Claymate that may jump off the bandwagon. But you have to remember who the majority of Clay’s fans are—women ages 40+. They don’t love him for his looks. They love him because he’s an upstanding, truthful young man they could see as their son-in-law. To have that image shattered when they fought against it for so long is a tough pill to swallow—regardless of what their personal views on homosexuality may be.
Now you’re probably wondering what my view is. Though I’m not hardcore, I do still consider myself a Claymate.
So do I feel betrayed? No. I decided a long time ago that if Clay was gay, he had his reasons for keeping it quiet—reasons I couldn’t possibly understand. And if by hiding his sexuality, Clay was able to continue making great music, I was okay with that.
Because for me, that’s all that matters. Gay, straight, whatever. As long as he still has that beautiful voice, that’s all I care about.
And if he ever does go out on tour again (and I really hope he does) and he comes anywhere close to the Tri-State area, I’ll be there to see him.
I hope I won’t be alone…