NEW YORK — Clay Aiken appears on the cover of the latest People magazine holding his infant son, Parker Foster Aiken, with the headline: “Yes, I’m Gay.”
The 29-year-old former “American Idol” runner-up, multiplatinum recording artist and Broadway star credits his son, conceived by in-vitro fertilization with friend and producer Jaymes Foster, with making him realize that he could no longer hide his homosexuality from the world.
“It was the first decision I made as a father,” Aiken told the magazine, which arrives on newsstands Friday. “I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things. I wasn’t raised that way, and I’m not going to raise a child to do that.”
Aiken, who rose to fame on “Idol” in 2003, has long been the subject of rumors and tabloid fodder that he was gay, but usually refused to acknowledge them. In an interview with The Associated Press two years ago, he said of the talk: “I don’t really feel like I have anybody to answer to but myself and God and the people I love.”
Aiken said he only told his family that he was gay four years ago. He recalled a tearful discussion with his mother in a car after dropping off his brother, who was being sent to Iraq, at a military base.
“It was dark. I was sitting there, thinking to myself. I don’t know why I started thinking about it ... I just started bawling. She made me pull over the car and it just came out,” he said. “She started crying. She was obviously somewhat stunned. But she was very supportive and very comforting.”
Aiken said his mother “still struggles with things quite a bit, but she’s come a long way.”
The magazine cover features Aiken holding his son, who was born in August. The baby’s mother is Aiken’s record producer, whom he met while performing on “Idol.”
Aiken, who considers himself a born-again Christian, said he knows he may turn off some fans — known as Claymates — with his admission and his decision to have a child outside traditional marriage.
“I’ve never intended to lie to anybody at all,” he said. “But if they leave, I don’t want them to leave hating me.”
Gay groups applauded Aiken’s public admission.
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“We congratulate Clay for making this decision and for setting an example for others and his family,” said Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. As we’re seeing, more and more gay people, including celebrities, are living openly and honestly, and this has tremendous impact in terms of creating awareness, understanding and acceptance.”
Aiken’s hardcore fans — known as Claymates — are taking the news very seriously. As of Wednesday afternoon, there were reportedly more than 2,000 entries on the message board for Aiken’s official Web site.
Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings “We’ll ‘talk’ more later, but, suffice it to say, for the first time in recent memory, I am speechless,” Aiken writes on his Web site’s fan page ClayOnline, according to People. “I’m so proud to know and love all of you.”
To read Aiken’s newest blog and post a message, the site requires you to join his fan club. Membership fees range from $14.99 plus tax to $29.99, plus shipping and handling for a Clay Aiken tote bag, lip balm and set of Clay Aiken buttons.
Meanwhile, the Aiken fan site ClayManiacs was open for viewing. Response in a thread on the site’s “ShoutBox” was generally supportive, though at least one fan was shaken by Aiken’s public confession.
“This is really shocking news as I had no idea he was gay,” read a comment posted by “Sheridansq.” “And now I have to deal with this. I am not sure what to say to people who know I was a fan. ... I didn’t go to work today and am not answering the telephone.”
Aiken recently released the CD “On My Way Here.” He made his Broadway debut this spring in “Monty Python’s Spamalot.”
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