I believe in honesty so I'll admit it: I'm not feeling very funny today; just a bit annoyed. You know that dizzy, confused feeling you get from the crazy plot-twist endings of movies like "The Sixth Sense" or "The Usual Suspects?" Try to imagine the exact utter opposite of that and you'll have the world's reaction to the announcement that Clay Aiken is gay.
Now Clay (can I call you Clay?), I'm not trying to pick on you. Your coming out is a brave act of honesty that's appreciated even as it comes long, long after anyone could ever give a shit. It's just that, right after becoming a star on "American Idol" in 2002, you almost immediately began denying rumours about your sexuality, finally whining to People magazine in 2006, "It doesn't matter what I say. People are going to believe what they want." Only when they clearly know you're lying, you little tool! Even when one of your Manhunt tricks went and posted your webcam pics on the Internet (which, yes, is very wrong), you still hid and lied. No one cared! You could have come out then but no — still this ridiculous pretense that's even less plausible than that of Ricky Martin.
I pick on Clay Aiken because of Will Young. In 2002, at the age of 23, he was the winner of the original "Pop Idol" in the UK (Aiken appeared later that year on the subsequent American version). Since then, they've both gained lots of fans and remained on the charts in their respective countries, except that Will Young came out immediately after his win. While Aiken spent the last six years lying to reporters (and probably himself), Young has been forthright about his sexuality in videos both sensitive and funny:
Is it fair to compare the two of them? Growing up in England was no doubt kinder to Will Young than Clay Aiken's American Southern Baptist upbringing but in an interview this week, the British pop star described himself as "the worst gay person ever" because he's reluctant to campaign for gay rights issues. That headline is now everywhere and it's unfair because it's never occurred to Young that it's possible to do even less. Cheers to Clay Aiken for finally telling the truth but, just like on "American Idol," he came in second.
With all that said, it's time once again for a big salute to Ellen DeGeneres, who schools everyone in how to be politically active, charming and funny, and to (who knew?) Lindsay Lohan, who's made the whole 'coming out' story kind of pointless by just living her life and dating her girlfriend out in the open. It's never been about labels, just honesty.