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Clay Aiken: Out 'American Idol' singing star says life is good as he launches 'Tried & True' tour

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

To his throngs of loyal fans, singing star Clay Aiken can do no wrong.

"My mother doesn't defend me as much on some days," says Aiken, who debuts his Tried & True concert tour Thursday at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.

For five years after he won international American Idol fame in 2003, fans stood by Aiken as mean-spirited bloggers taunted him as "Gaykin." Then, weeks after the birth of son Parker in August 2008, Aiken appeared on the cover of People magazine beside a screaming headline, "Yes, I'm Gay."

"I still love you Clay and think you sing like an angel. You are still the same person inside today as you were yesterday!" a woman posted to fan site ClayManaics.com just after People announced the news.

Two years later, Aiken is an anti-bullying spokesman for GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

"I didn't choose to be gay. I choose to be out," Aiken, 32, tells The Miami Herald. "I'm also respectful of people who choose not to be."

4401025Aiken says his decision to come out publicly had nothing to do with becoming a single dad.

"The tipping point was not because my son was born. Because of the position I was in, I pretty much had to," he says. "I was out to everyone I was working with. I wasn't out to people I don't know. All of my friends who are gay aren't out to people they don't know."

Aiken's public declaration cost him some fans, he acknowledges. "I would be remiss to say it didn't have any effect at all."

Still, Aiken's life is better today. "To say I'm happier now would imply I was unhappy before. I definitely see now there is a certain amount of freedom ... I didn't have before. I also see the fears I had before didn't come to fruition.''

Aiken's Tried & True tour -- based on his current album of the same name -- contains such '50s and '60s standards as Can't Take My Eyes Off of You and Unchained Melody.

"We're doing it very intimately," Aiken says. "The songs are lushly arranged but the orchestrations will stay big. We'll try and pull the instrumentation down a bit. There's something that gets lost when there are as many people on stage as in the house."

Aiken says the down side to playing a 22-city, four-week bus tour is being separated from 2-year-old Parker.

"Technology helps," Aiken says. "We Skype and all that.


Clay Aiken appears 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall in the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. Tickets $35 to $85. Call 305-949-6722 or www.arshtcenter.org.


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So 2 years ago he said it was because of Parker, and now he says it wasn't. I am more convinced than ever that he has a selective memory. Or maybe his memory is as talented at writing fiction as he is at singing. :D

Thank you for this positive article about Clay Aiken.

Clay is a true talent and I have enjoyed his voice since he was on AI.

Clay is a strong man that has had to put up with rumors and taunting his entire professional career. I would imagine that there are many reasons why Clay decided to come out to the world. His son had a part of that, but so did the haters that would not leave him alone. Life will be fair when straight guys have to announce they are straight.

Thanks again for the great, positive article. I am looking forward to seeing and hearing Clay on his new tour.

What a refreshing article. Clay rarely speaks about his sexuality, as he feels it's not the most important thing in his life. I believe his son is! Any way, thanks for the article.

Texases, I would guess it's more about having multiple reasons and time and distance changing perspective. Nice article and I love the line:

"I didn't choose to be gay. I choose to be out,
I'm also respectful of people who choose not to be."

Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone could be respectful on this subject? I think we all have different journeys.

Thanks for a great article on Clay Aiken.

Kudos to him for speaking up about being out - how he's stood up to all the bashing and hate directed at him over the years is astounding.

He is an amazing singer, and an incredible performer, I'm looking forward to seeing in in a couple of weeks for his next tour.

Thanks for the article. Clay has said, people don't come out and say they are straight, I didn't think gay people should necessarily make an announcement. He will never, as any other celeb, avoid all the haters, but it will be better.
I'm going to see Clay in concert! Yea!

Thanks Steve for the great article about Clay. He truly has a wonderful voice, and one of the best entertainers out there...No two shows are the same....

Clay has been through so much over the years, from the bashing and bullying. It's refreshing to see a nice article and accurate about a man who just wants to perform to make a living, be a good dad, and make a difference in this world with his charities and through UNICEF.

Thanks, Judy

Thanks for a good article about Clay. He is an amazing talent and funny to boot. His shows are just so much fun! His voice is unique and very special.

After all the years of stupid, ugly remarks by late night comics, DJs, & other media, Clay remains strong and continues to entertain. He loves his son, family, and works hard for UNICEF and his charity, the National Inclusion Project. He is one of the good guys.

Thanks again --

"You are still the same person inside today as you were yesterday!"
I am not the person to whom the article refers, but I could be. I actually did say this to friends after the People Magazine article. I believe it's how most of us who have remained fans feel.

Looking forward to the tour and hearing that glorious voice live again and being entertained by a man who knows how to connect with his audience.

I love this article. I really admire Clay for coming out and being who he is. He uses his celebrity to help others. I am glad that he is so happy now and can enjoy his son Parker. Yes, it must be hard to be separated...but, like he said he has Skype to see Parker and talk to him. Yeaa for Technology. I will be seeing Clay in just 6 days in Orlando.

Eh, it's easy to see what your motivations really were once you gain some distance from a situation. He may have thought he was coming out for Parker's sake, but now that he looks at it with the perspective of two years after, maybe he sees how other factors pushed him in that direction. It happens. :)

So wish I could attend this tour!!!!

Never believed it was his not wanting his son to live with the lie that finally made him come out. It could well have been the fact that he was seen often with Reed in New York! That would do it. Don't think he expected to meet him, right when Jaymes got pregnant, and we know how that worked out. Also, he and Jaymes announced that it was invetro, and that raised suspicion too, even though she was so old.
Sorry he ever made the splashy announcement though. He lost most of his following, not because he was gay, but because there was no apology for letting good fans stick up for him, when all along the tabloids were right. He didn't ever owe us his personal life, but he did owe us the truth in his book, filled with talk of girl crushes, his interview with Rolling Stone when he said he was NOT gay, and all the times he repeated that he had already answered that question. Were we actually supposed to believe he was lying at that time???
Still, in spite of the fact that he won't admit HE was the one to purposely cause the adoring fans to believe he was straight with his every action and words, he remains the best live singer I have ever heard. Just a beautiful voice, and a really entertaining guy on stage and off.

Carla....I guess you haven't been around very much lately. Clay did NOT lose most of his fan base...just some that were looking for a reason to leave anyway.

My question...if you don't like him why in the world do you waste your precious time to read about him and comment.

Ah, thats right....you are one of the persons that goes around and says negative things to see what will happen. Sad.

No matter where you see an article written about Clay Aiken you will find comments by bullies who drag up their own interpretations of Clay's past comments. I admire the man for what he's had to put up with over the years, but even more than that I love his voice. I've been to a number of concerts and whoever said no two are alike is so right!

It sure would be nice if those perfect saintly people who have never made a mistake would get with the now and quit rehashing stuff from years ago. No matter what, no one knows exactly what the future holds, but it's better to look forward than backward.

The interview and article is well done, but fans would beg to differ with the comment that they think Clay can do no wrong. Fans know he's not perfect, but neither are they and they don't expect Clay to be either.

You know, his talk of girl crushes when he was in high school.....I believe. I think he was trying hard NOT to be gay, or admit it to himself at that time.

I've had lots of gay friends who have felt the same way. Coming to terms with it for oneself can be confusing and frightening and it's a convoluted journey for most.

Coming to terms with it while in the public spotlight must be doubly so. I don't fault him for any of it - I'm just happy that he can now be happy with himself.

And I'm REALLY looking forward to his new tour. He delivers one heck of a show!!!

Sorry Carla I just don't understand that point of view. Yes he said he wasn't gay in the Rolling Stone article--what else would you expect?? He wasn't out to anyone at that point. It was a couple of years before he told some of his family and I'm sure much longer for the rest. He comes from a very conservative religious background. I truly believe part of the reason he stayed in the closet publicly as long as he did was to protect his family. Unfortunately the term "staying in the closet" necessitates not being totally truthful.

He never ever asked to be defended against the bashing. If some felt they constantly had to stick up for him--it's on them, not him. I've always felt the obsessive need to defend him only made it worse for him.

I'm sorry I think there is a lot of re-writing of history. Clay denied being gay once ot twice in the very beginning. After that he just refused to answer the question and really why should he have to? I feel no need for an apology from someone who didn't come out publicly until he was ready--never, ever felt that kind of entitlement.

He never, ever faked a romantic relationship with a woman to try to fool people like many gay celebrities have done. I didn't see any actions and words that deliberately made people think he was straight. He danced and flirted with a woman on the stage in his concerts and he continued to do it after he was "out" in Spamalot. Gay woman men are allowed to like women and get a kick out of flirting with them.

Now back to the important stuff. Clay has a great voice and he's a fun entertainer. His concerts are the best and I look forward to being in Miami in less than a week!!!

Liz, I am a realist. He most certainly wanted us to believe he was straight, and he succeeded. He knew he did too. Clay even drooled while signing a young girl's shirt early on. If that wasn't telling us he was straight, why did he do it? He talked of huge crushes in high school, and pined after a GIRL. He said he could understand why people might think he was gay, as he had some feminine qualities, which he attributed to being brought up by a bunch of women. The list goes on. There is no way he didn't say more than once that he already answered that question. That's different from not answering at all.
At first he would say no one knew, then Kimberly knew, then Kelly and Ruben knew, and that was it. The story changed. Not that long ago he said everyone associated with Idol knew, and so did everyone in the music industry. All knew in New York before the announcement. Unless Brett is totally out of touch with his brother, he surely knew, as did his friends. His Mom would be in denial, but she had to know on some level. His telling them made for a better tale.
WE were the only ones left in the dark, believing his word, and he even thanked us for "circling the wagons." That is what bothers most people, and why many left his side. I believe he was worried about his career, and that is understandable. What is not acceptable is not apologizing for purposely leading us astray. It's just more comfy for him to say it is because he's gay they are gone, and people are homophobic. Not so, for the most part. They would have stayed, if he had admitted he did it, and why. No one needed to ever KNOW he was gay, but he made it our business, when he said he was not.

Enough of this. His talent is immense, his voice is spectacular, he's hilarious, and appears to have a good heart. Think the entertainment industry has treated him poorly, and I truly hope his future is brighter, but facts are facts. I am sad for him, and still buy his cds, and attend his concerts, but I am doing it with my eyes wide open.

You know what, folks, it was never our business. It was never the business of that first reporter who asked the question of him right after AI, and it was never the business of the tabloids and/or bloggers who hounded him for years.

I don't blame him one bit for being in the closet and staying as long as he did. Coming out is a very personal and difficult thing for many people; and Clay is no exception.

Besides, gay OR straight, he sure as hell was not going to put his shoes under any of our beds anyway, lol.

As for his interaction with women, I still say his high school crushes were real. Can you just imagine coming from his background where being gay is considered a sin and hoping against hope that those crushes meant he was not gay? I can't, and so I'm able to cut him a whole lot of slack.

And, jeez he still flirts with women, one of the biggest flirts around from what I saw on his summer tour with Ruben. His flirting with his blonde back up singer was fun and outrageous. I think he really DOES like women, he just is not attracted to them as much as some women/girls would have liked him to be.

My eyes are wide open, too, and as Chelsea Handler said, "I'm very pleased with what I see" when I look at him, listen to him, and totally, 100% , enjoy his concerts. Ca

I followed him at first because he wore a "What would Jesus Do" bracelet. I felt he was a christian and went to all his concerts and especially the Christmas ones, where he sang to the Lord so beautifully.
When he got to LA he lost his way and went the way of the world. He took off that bracelet and apparently forgot that the Bible says that a homosexual life style is an abomination to God. In more verses than one. I pray for Clay to return to his moral roots. I
do not judge anyone. God is the ultimate judge.

Carla and Rose the saddest part of your comments is that you make it sound like something wrong was done to "You". You sound like "victims" of Clay's actions and statements and your words are trying to bring a good man down. Get over yourselves and please get over Clay too.

It was a great article, but I'm hoping for future articles in which the sexuality side will no longer be necessary. That will be even greater. Maybe dwell on his voice, his performances and maybe make mention of his foundation and his work with children with disabilities.

Yeah, that would work for me.

BTW, I'm straight.

Truth is, I wouldn't be able to drool as much or go to as many concerts if he was not out. Life is good for me too! :D Glad things worked out as well as it did. Clay is a celebrity who has a whole lot of heart. :D

Btw, thanks Steve, enjoyed your article very much. :D

Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

Rose, Clay is still a Christian. Clay has a beautiful soul and heart and God looks at him and He is pleased. I hope you can surround yourself with the Love of God and be healed from the darkness in your soul that calls you to condemn and judge one of God's children.

Thank you for a great article about Clay. I'm looking forward to his tour!

People never give thought to Clay's work with UNICEF which involved travel to Afghanistan, Uganda, Somalia etc. If there were no other reason to not discuss being gay publicly those trips would be sufficient for obvious reasons. Once his son was born, Clay said those kinds of trips would be curtailed because he had a son to worry about. I wish people would give the guy a break, he deserves praise for his work for the world's children, not the crap he's had to endure.

He also has asked his fans not to defend him against the crap, said he would love them anyway. It was their choice to continue -- not encouraged at all by him.

Clay is a great entertainer with a magnificent voice and stage presence. Cannot wait for his upcoming tour. I really hope some of your readers decide to attend a concert. His shows are filled with humor and great singing.

Steve, thank you for a great article. Yes, Clay did lose some fans after he came out and I think that was the dumbest thing ever on their part. He was still the same man with the big heart and the glorious voice.

I too believe that he had a problem announcing to all something that was none of our business because of his love for helping children and his trips with UNICEF. Being "out" would have prevented him from things he loved to do when most UNICEF ambassadors would have been afraid to go the countries that Clay visited.

As I have said all too often, his female fans have as much chance with him as they ever did so I never could understand that reasoning. He has fans from under 20 to 90 so his music does appeal to a wide range of fans. People like myself who really never followed any artist were drawn to him like bees to honey. We could see the goodness and his desire to help those less fortunate, particularly the disabed, and with that voice, we were hooked.

I will always be a fan of the man with the heart of gold and the voice of an angel. :)

Thanks for this great article on Clay. Love reading about Clay and his performances.

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