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Perspective on Clay Aiken’s Coming Out

By Lavender October 9, 2008

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Given the Walter Lanz (insert Mel Blanc’s Woody Woodpecker laugh here) state of the nation, it seems that Clay Aiken (aka Clayton Holmes Grissom) is a good a topic with which to ponder themes of truth and full disclosure.

Reactions to Aiken’s recent coming out have ranged from “about time!” to “yes, and the sky is blue, the grass is green, and the bear…”—well, you get the gist.

Why would Aiken wait so long?

The singer began his meteoric rise to fame in 2003 on the second season of American Idol, at the age of 25. Even today, very few entertainment or sports personalities publicly claim gayness.

Should Aiken have risked either his Idol image or recording career? Was he bound for any reason to tell the world (verbally or in writing, his body language notwithstanding) that he was gay?

While I agree with those who argue that every openly gay person by being so makes a statement about the ubiquity and wide-ranging talents of the members of the GLBT community, are the sexual proclivities of another individual really anyone else’s business?

So, what’s the answer?

I think that the more open more people are, the more it will benefit both the straight and gay community, but it is the right of each person to use his or her own judgment in deciding when, where, and whether to come out.

One of the occasions where forced outing has a place, in my opinion, is when the outee has been using lies and deception—à la Senator Larry Craig—hiding his own sexual attractions, while proposing or approving antigay legislation.

Aiken’s decision to have a child by artificial insemination with an older woman friend was certainly a tip-off (for the voyeuristically inclined) of his own sexual direction.

When Aiken did opt to come out, the main reason he gave the press was that he did not want his son to be raised in an atmosphere of lies and indirection. The truth? A spin? His was a good and valid answer, nonetheless.

Truth and full disclosure might have been early antidotes to problems more dire than a pop-rock singer’s gayness. Witness, for example, the unbridled spending and blue-sky loan schemes that finally have sent the country’s financial string-pullers figuratively scrambling door to door to taxpayers on the equivalent of a $700 billion Girl Scout cookie sale.

Aiken, with full disclosure of his sexuality, could not have been in the US military. Indeed, would he have been, as he was in 2006, appointed by President George W. Bush to a two-year term on a committee that acts in an advisory capacity to the President and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on matters relating to programs and services for persons with intellectual disabilities?

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