Homophobia on Morning TV: Rosie vs. Kelly vs. Clay

Yesterday, Clay Aiken co-hosted Regis & Kelly to fill in for Regis. At one point, Clay reached up and covered Kelly Ripa’s mouth with his hand (see left video) while she was asking the Dancing with the Stars winners Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke a question.

Obviously miffed, Ripa looked at Clay and said, “That’s a ‘No, No’. I don’t know where that hand’s been, honey.”

Rosie O’Donnell responded to the incident by accusing Ripa of making a homophobic remark. Ripa called Rosie on The View (right video) to defend herself, saying it’s flu season and that’s why she made the remark.

Ripa has every right to be pissed about Clay’s hand over her mouth. But she says she wasn’t insinuating that Clay had his fingers up a man’s heiney, which for gays and lesbians like Rosie, attuned to homophobic remarks, is what it may have sounded like.

Of course the real elephant in the room here is all the backing away from Aiken’s sexuality.

Homophobia is a no, no on morning talk shows, according to the hosts involved here.

But the greater homophobia is the insinuation that asking Aiken even to address the rumors regarding his sexuality is a horrible thing despite the fact that these hosts ask heterosexual stars all the time whether certain dating rumors are true or not. Clay’s perfectly welcome to deny and capable of denying any and all rumors.

The implication is that it’s not right to ask possibly gay stars about their private lives (even though heterosexual stars are questioned all the time) because being gay is a bad thing.

I applaud Rosie for calling Ripa out on her comment whether or not Ripa was insinuating Aiken was gay, but Rosie should know better than to then go and defend the View’s supposedly righteous policy of not asking Clay about the sexuality rumors when I’ve seen them sit down and ask Jessica Simpson point blank whether or not the tabloid stories were true that she’s dating John Mayer. After all, suggesting that Ripa was behaving homophobically is Rosie’s tacit acknowledgement that Clay is gay anyway, isn’t it?

I enjoy both Ripa and Rosie, and I doubt Ripa is homophobic, but this incident certainly added an undercurrent to the talk shows I haven’t seen in a while. Below, Ripa discusses the incident with Regis.

(thanks to Good as You for the clips)