September 24, 2008 / 5:06 PM / in 9 years

Clay Aiken acknowledges he's gay

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former “American Idol” contestant Clay Aiken has acknowledged he is gay, confirming in an interview with People magazine what most of his fans have suspected for years.

<p>Singer Clay Aiken arrives at the 2006 American Music Awards on November 21, 2006 in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>

Aiken, 29, a born-again Christian who forged a successful career after being named runner-up in the 2003 “American Idol” television talent show, said he decided to come out after becoming a father in August.

“It was the first decision I made as a father,” Aiken told People magazine in an interview for its Friday edition.

“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 has dodged questions about his sexuality for years, usually replying that it was his own business.

<p>Clay Aiken, from Raleigh, North Carolina, performs on American Idol during the show's live finale in Los Angeles, May 21, 2003. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>

He told People he came out to his mother four years ago, and said he hoped his fans, dubbed the Claymates, would not desert him. “I’ve never intended to lie to anybody at all. ... But if they leave, I don’t want them to leave hating me.”

Aiken has been one of the more successful “American Idol” contestants, releasing solo albums and currently appearing on Broadway in the spoof musical “Monty Python’s Spamalot.”

In August, Aiken fathered a baby through in-vitro fertilization with his friend, music producer Jaymes Foster. Foster gave birth to a boy Parker on August 8.

The gay community congratulated Aiken on going public. Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said, “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.”

The news came as little surprise to those in the music business. “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell said, “If he said it, it’s the right thing for him. Good for him. I don’t think anyone cares. Let’s face it. It’s 2008.”

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte ʘ

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