It has been four days since Clay Aiken was a guest on the popular television series, Drop Dead Diva. The episode titled, The Prom, has received a great deal of publicity. Taking on a controversial topic, the show combined humor with a relevant subject to help the audience understand the importance of the issue.
Drop Dead Diva is known for using exciting and popular guests in their story-lines. It was fun to see Clay featured in the last episode. And the publicity just does not stop. On Wednesday, Yahoo news ran a great article about Clay…all because of his participation on Drop Dead Diva.
Clay Aiken Defends His Southern Home
By Amy and Nancy Harrington, Pop Culture Passionistas, Yahoo! Contributor Network – July 27, 2011 3:27 PM PDT
This past weekend Clay Aiken appeared in an episode of “Drop Dead Diva” that paralleled the real life story of Constance McMillen. Last year the teenager sued her high school after being banned from her prom, all because she wanted to take her girlfriend as her date. The discriminatory tale sparked outrage around the world and turned a spotlight on equality issues in the South. But Aiken, who recently participated in a conference call interview from Durham, North Carolina, came to the defense of his homestead.
Clay Aiken Defends His Southern Home on the Issue of Equality
The former “American Idol” contestant commented on how gay rights topics are viewed in below the Mason-Dixon line, “As someone who still lives here — I would argue that it may not be as much a regional issue as it is a national issue. Obviously you can argue that there are areas in the county where it might be a little bit easier, but I think that it is a national issue. It’s not necessarily just a Southern thing.”
He continued, “There are plenty of opportunities for us to say that homophobia exists in a certain religious environment more than it does in a secular environment. And while that may be true, it’s not necessarily the rule. I know plenty of Christians who are open-minded and equality loving and I know plenty of Southerners who are the same.”
Aiken theorized, “Because society tends to be a little more insular in the South, if you will, often times it’s a little bit more pronounced here ‘” the homophobia. But I put it this way, I live in an area in the South that is relatively progressive. Raleigh and Durham and most of North Carolina, in fact, is more progressive than I think we are painted.”
Still he acknowledged that there’s room for growth, “I wouldn’t for a second say that the South is ready to embrace equality as much as I’d like for them to, but I would argue that there aren’t that many places in the county that are. And so, I’m a proud Southerner.
Aiken admitted, “I get slightly defensive because I know that there are lots of challenges in the Southeast that still need to be met, but I do see a lot of progress. And it is kids like Constance, shows like ‘Drop Dead Diva’ and plenty of other shows and plenty of other individuals who have stood up.”
Clay Aiken Believes that Gay Rights Will Become More Accepted with Time
The crooner contended that the amount of change he has seen is encouraging. “I think about the fact that from the time that I started in this business, if you want to put it like that, in 2003, the lengths that the entertainment industry has come, the lengths that the country has come in less than 10 years, is amazing.”
But he couldn’t specifically say why that change has come about. Aiken remarked, “I really don’t even know who to credit with it, but I think that there have been a lot of opportunities in the media for positive role models for gay and lesbian young people. And positive examples of gay and lesbian Americans.”
Clay Aiken Cites Ellen DeGeneres and Amanda Bearse for Influencing the Change
He cited a few big names with being trailblazers, noting, “If you look at Ellen DeGeneres as one of the early [celebrities to come out]. Amanda Bearse, who is on the [‘Drop Dead Diva’ episode ‘Prom’] and I think doesn’t get as much credit because she was way, way before it was cool — Way before if was okay, back when she was on ‘Married with Children.'”
Aiken added, “There are people who took a stand and who came out much more courageously early in the late ’90s and 15 years ago. And slowly, as Ellen has gotten a lot of acceptance from the mainstream population, you saw shows like ‘Will and Grace.'”
Clay Aiken Believes that Hollywood Is Helping by Putting a Face to Gay America
He said he feels a sense of hope. “I definitely believe that Hollywood, and I use that as a metonym for the whole entertainment industry, Hollywood and the media in general have put an — accurate face on gays and lesbians, and bisexuals and transgenders in this country, which they didn’t have before. And it’s snowballed in some way. ‘Will and Grace’ was groundbreaking and now it’s rare really to find a show that doesn’t have a gay character in it in some way. And that’s had a lot to do with why people are more comfortable with it.”
Aiken shared his wish that the level of acceptance will continue to grow, “I say all the time if people knew someone who was gay, if they were exposed to it. It’s not about hatred, I don’t think, as much as it is about ignorance. And as the media has allowed more people to be exposed to the fact that this character on this TV show may be gay, but they’re exactly the same as every other character, they just happen to be gay. As we’ve taken away some of those stereotypes — it’s made it a lot easier for people to embrace equality.”
The pop star-turned-actor summed it all by saying, “Fear and ignorance go hand in hand. So as shows like ‘Drop Dead Diva’ and the future ‘Will and Grace’s’ of the world and folks like Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie [O’Donnell] and Neil Patrick Harris, and just anybody in the public eye allow us opportunities to see gays and lesbians having productive families and lives. Those fears will abate for a lot of people and I think it’ll be easier to change some of those laws.”
If you missed Aiken on “Drop Dead Diva,” you can check it out on MyLifetime.com and catch the series when it airs on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. Central on Lifetime.
Why not stop by and leave a comment to let the site know that Clay has lots of support.
You can see this article HERE
Thanks for bringing over the article CANN. I love how Clay is so supportive of his home town, he has always been that way. He is proud of who he is, and proud of where he lives, and that is the most important thing. I agree totally with everything he said about being a national issue. But with that, I do believe things are changing for the good…and as long as good role models like Clay and Ellen show that they are just normal people living their lives, it is a good thing. Their sexual orientation is just a small percentage of who they are. Times are a changing!!!! For the good.
Wonderful article concerning Clay, wish there were more like this. Clay sets a good example for
the gay-community and I also agree with the Judy's comments on everything he said about being a national isue. I live in Central Illinois and we have no problems with the gay issues in my community and recently Illinois ruled in favor of gay marriages. Good for our state and hopefully more will follow so all people will be equal.
Most impressive article. I too, agree that if more people understood more about the Gay community, they would be more for equality. It is a National issue…but, it seems to me that times are changing very rapidly. Who would have ever thought that a large city like New York would have all these Weddings and approve of Gay Marriage?
I am glad to see people like Clay and many others in the entertainment industry being good Role models. It is time for a change…and, I do believe it is happening.