The reactions range from confusion to disbelief to disappointment. But the vast majority of Clay Aiken's hardcore fans – Claymates they're called – support his recent acknowledgement on the cover of People magazine that, "Yes, I'm gay."
But is there a double standard for celebrity males who come out versus females? Since Aiken's news leaked Wednesday, his official Web site had received more than 2,000 entries on the message board. Compare that with the non-reaction from fans when Lindsay Lohan earlier this week told DJ Ted Stryker that she and Samantha Ronson have been together for a "long time…a very long time."
"I think when gay men comes out it's often more thought-provoking," said Andrew Belonsky, editor of Queerty.com. "It's still big news. You hear about girls having sex with girls all the time, and then there's that lesbian fantasy [that straight men have]."
Some Claymates, on the other hand, seemed completely blindsided by Aiken's revelation.
"This is really shocking news as I had no idea he was gay," read a comment posted by "Sheridansq" on the Aiken fan site ClayManiacs. "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."
Some refused to believe it was true. "Reeks of photoshop to me," wrote "Playbiller" on fan site AikenForums.com. "No, I am not delusional, this just does not add to me."
"I honestly thought the whole thing was a huge joke and eventually Clay would laugh about it and say "Just joking!" but he never did," said Krystal Gray, a 21-year-old fan from Ontario, Canada. "After I realized it wasn't a joke, I was confused, appalled, a little taken a back."
If there is some confusion, it could be due to Aiken's evasive answers to previous questions about his sexuality. In an interview with New York magazine earlier this year, he sounded almost asexual.
"I have got too much on my plate," the 29-year-old "American Idol" alum told the magazine regarding his lack of a relationship. "I'd rather focus on one thing and do that when I can devote time to it, and right now, I just don't have any desire."
Because of answers like that, some fans now feel duped.
"I wish him well and hope he gets some peace of mind now BUT I feel he lied to everyone-especially us fans. He should have just said so years ago. I feel like we were 'used,'" read a comment by "NJ4ClayA" on The Clayboard, another fan site.
"Emily" on AikenForums.com wrote: "Yeah, that's why I'm a little ticked about the whole thing too. The fact that he lied to us all these years. I haven't really been a huge fan for a couple years now but back when I loved Clay, I used to argue with my family and friends who called him gay. I swore to them he wasn't. Now I feel like the stupid one for ever defending him against them."
Who Are the Claymates?
Belonsky believes part of the vehement reaction to Aiken's news stems from having a devoted fan base.
"The thing with Lindsay Lohan, she occupies such a different world of celebrity," he said. "She was the drug addict, the wild girl. She has less fans than people who like to watch her and are intrigued by her. Clay's fans really love him. They are people who enjoy him for his talent."