02/25/2010- by Natasia Langfelder
Clay Aiken and Meredith Baxter will be delivering speeches about LGBT rights this weekend at the Human Rights Campaign Carolinas Gala in Raleigh, NC. This is the first time Aiken, who is from Raleigh, will be speaking at a gay-rights event in his hometown.
“I don’t feel like this is the place to be horribly politically charged and bash people and talk about the wrongs that have been done,” he said. “My goal is to be hopeful, that it’s time for everyone to have equal rights…It’s more important to me, as a parent, that my son have all the rights — if he’s gay — than it is for me. I don’t want to do anything today that’s going to inhibit, or be a detriment to, his rights,” he said.
Aiken says his goal is to urge Americans to support equal rights for all. He expounds on this, saying that he believes in marriage equality and hospital visitation rights. The former American Idol runner-up foresees this process taking a very long time.
Aiken said he would attend Saturday’s event with his bodyguard and without family members or friends. His family is not taking the “news” of his gayness well.
“Some Southern families like to sweep things under the rug,” he said. “We just don’t talk about it.”
It’s good to see Aiken stepping up and talking about being gay. Aiken was closeted for a long time, in order to not alienate his family or his fan base, even though he was dogged by gay rumors. My problem with Aiken is that he is politely asking for equality. Arguably, that technique hasn’t worked so far. There is an ongoing debate in the LGBT community on whether or not we should continue to work within the system to gain equality or to adopt more hard line methods. If Aiken can’t get find the words to get his own family to support him, he won’t be able to find the words to persuade a crowd of people who are hungry for equality.
On the other hand, Aiken’s sweet as pie, non-threatening routine can be an effective tool for converting the views of Southerners who are on the fence on LGBT civil rights. Perhaps if Aiken sets up the shot, Baxter will be come out of the gate with a speech strong enough to score.