Originally published in 2008.
I’m just unable to generate any excitement over Clay Aiken’s brave decision, now that he’s independently wealthy and has a baby made of his own sperm to prove his virility, to come out of the closet.
I saw how he treated Diane Sawyer two years ago when she asked him. I think he owes her an apology, and I hope she gets one from him.
He’s been quoted, also in People, as saying, at the time of the Sawyer interview,
What do you say? It’s like when I was 8. I remember something would get broken in the house, and Mom and Dad would call me in and say, ‘Did you do this?’ Well, it didn’t matter what I said. The only thing they would believe was yes. People are going to believe what they want.
What he didn’t say was whether or not his parents had guessed correctly when they chose to believe “yes.” That makes a huge difference, because if he hadn’t broken the something, then comparing that story to the story of his deceit for lo these five years is apples and oranges, because yoo-hoo! We believed “yes” and we were right.
There is no one so self-righteous and prone to rationalization as a Christian who has just come out as gay after having lied about it for a long time. I know whereof I speak: I was one myself. He’s trying to weasel out of having to admit that we’d told him so. Suck it up, babe: we all had to do it, because, with rare exception, somebody else had our number before we did.
I’ve never done most of the normal American rites of passage: never married, never bought a house, never had a kid. So I can say with confidence that for me, coming out was the most important rite of passage in my first 48 and 2/3 years. (I suppose Clay can’t say the same of himself, because he’s had a kid.) I know how important coming out is.
But after the years of deceit and the public denunciations that will, thanks to the Internet, never, ever die, his coming out doesn’t strike me as much of a triumph or an act of courage. I’m much more about “Well, it’s about frickin’ time!” than about “Congratulations on this brave step” at this point. Dragging it out made a definite anticlimax of the declaration.
I’m having a hard time telling him welcome-to-the-fold because by saying of the likes of me, “I’m not one of them!” so vehemently for so long, it’s like, after you kicked and fussed and screamed your way onto my bus, now you expect me to want you to sit next to me with all that residual bad vibe? Go find Neil Patrick Harris, he’s a few rows back somewhere. Famous people who deny that they’re in the closet while they’re in the closet don’t realize how “protesting too much” is profoundly derogatory to all of us who made ourselves vulnerable a long time ago. I’m just not impressed if they wait until they’re set for life before they finally take the risk. It’s not like Peter didn’t have reason to feel ashamed after the cock crowed three times.
Aiken says that he wasn’t raised to lie. Well, guess what: 29 years is a long time to do what you weren’t raised to do.
I think Clay Aiken is probably a great guy: by all accounts he’s charming, personable, generous, disciplined, and an exquisite chanteur to boot. I’m sure I’ll like him again some day (especially if he apologizes to Diane Sawyer—I’d be really impressed then). But for now, I just can’t see him as any kind of a hero or any kind of a role model: right now, three days post-closet, the only thing he’s a model of is a fraud. If you want a different opinion, ask me again after he’s weathered a storm or two that’s been whipped up directly as a result of his coming out.
©2008 Khrysso Heart LeFey