Clay Aiken | Rosie O'Donnell | Television

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)

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  1. There was absolutely nothing homophobic about that comment. I like Rosie, but she blew this way out of proportion. It's a little ridiculous.

    ...and Clay's a known jerk. It's not surprising he never even apologized. I'm sure he was nervous, but come on...that's a terribly rude thing to do, and I thought she handled it gracefully with a joke (which, even as a gay man, I assumed was in reference to cold/flu season and just general addition to it coming from this douchebag you are trying your hardest to pretend to like for a couple hours)

    Posted by: MCAWMCA | Nov 21, 2006 2:31:28 PM

  2. My point exactly Midnight Lounge--

    Loud, pushy Rosie making us all uncomfortable. So what? Let's get uncomfortable. The lady is right on this one.

    Posted by: jmg | Nov 21, 2006 2:31:42 PM

  3. I don't care who you are or what you do, You're not going to put your hand on my mouth, regardless. I would have said the exact same things as Kelly. I don't know where your hands have been, but keep them anyway from my mouth. How does Rosie always seem to interject herself into everything. Whatever happend to minding your own fucking business.

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 21, 2006 2:32:44 PM

  4. I'm with Rosie. It definitely sounded like Rippa was alluding Clay's personal life, but who cares?

    I think Rippa needs to quiet down. She's coming across like a spoiled diva.

    Posted by: Anon1 | Nov 21, 2006 2:34:37 PM

  5. I bet his hand did stink of some escorts heiny or however you spell it!

    Posted by: Hotel Coral Essex | Nov 21, 2006 2:35:24 PM

  6. Listen, no one is saying it was a nice thing to do that Clay put his hand on her mouth. It is her reaction to it that was uncalled-for.

    It was not nice for the hecklers to scream at Michael Richards, but his reaction was not warranted, either.

    The latter case is much more egregious, of course, but Kelly's "HONEY" would NOT have been said to Russell Crowe.

    Posted by: jmg | Nov 21, 2006 2:36:08 PM

  7. I'll ask can it be homophobic when Clay isn't gay? Or at least not openly gay? You can argue it anyway you want, but what Rosie did was OUT Clay on television.

    Posted by: Wayne | Nov 21, 2006 2:36:15 PM

  8. Kelly is not being truthful ... she OBVIOUSLY was making a dig at him because she was pissed .... and what is there to jokingly dick Clay about ... the bareback sex life claims from some dude who is now a "porn star". I am gay and make the SAME joke to my gay friends ... and straight friends ... especially those with active sex lives that are the subject of conversation (think Samantha from Sex and The City). It is not homophobic ... it is jokingly anti-sex ... beside Kelly is married to a former MALE STRIPPER (Man for Man) who had old gay men fondle him for YEARS for cash. 100% TRUE!

    Posted by: RJP3 | Nov 21, 2006 2:37:10 PM

  9. Ok, so, by making a big deal out of this "homophobic" remark, isn't Rosie kind of outing someone who hasn't even said anything about his sexuality yet? Like, it might seem painfully obvious, but Clay hasn't come out yet. I think she's done a great job of basically saying "everyone thinks you're gay, now we're going to stand up for you." She really needs to shut the hell up. I detest Kelly Ripa, but not because of this!

    Posted by: Ribbly | Nov 21, 2006 2:37:40 PM

  10. It can be homophobic when everyone in the world thinks a person is gay, even if the person is not out.

    I am sure Liberace and Paul Lynde heard tons of homophobic things in their lives.

    Posted by: jmg | Nov 21, 2006 2:38:30 PM

  11. On another note, perhaps Kelly Ripa is sensitive to what appears to be sexism, because she seems to be such a victim of it herself. When I first saw her with Regis a few years ago, I thought she had single-handedly taken women's equality back about 20 years. Their rapport is sort of cute, but her simpering, bend-over-backwards obliging of old-man Regis is a little hard for me to take, especially when coupled with her stick-thin body and stretched face. It doesn't exactly reek of gender equality to me. Maybe she only feels comfortable defending herself when someone younger and less in control (like Aiken) treats her badly.

    On the Rosie note, I'm happy to see her giving voice to opinions that are never heard. Although watching her makes me very tense.

    Posted by: JAMES | Nov 21, 2006 2:42:23 PM

  12. I don't love Kelly Ripa, but I don't think she did anything wrong. I'd say the same thing to him or anyone who put their hand over my mouth and I'm a gay man. It's good we have people like Rosie to champion and defend gay people, but her efforts could have been directed to a more worthy discussing Mitt Romney's latest homophobic mormon-induced rage perhaps? If Clay Aiken and his publicist had any sense, they would realize he's only making it worse for himself by not publicly coming out at this point.

    Posted by: kcny | Nov 21, 2006 2:43:45 PM

  13. I watched the clips, and I think it's a fair thing to discuss. I don't feel that Rosie went overboard. However, it should be pretty obvious that the remark was not homophobic. I would be extremely annoyed if a stranger (Kelly and Clay had never met prior to the taping) put his hand over my mouth, especially if I was a journalist conducting an interview! She was flustered by his action and decided to make a firm but light-hearted joke about it: "I don't know where that hand's been, honey."

    No homophobia here, imo.

    Posted by: Anita Woodward | Nov 21, 2006 2:46:21 PM

  14. I think it was utterly ridiculous for Rosie O'Donnell to claim the remark is homophobic. The statement "I don't know where that hand (foot, elbow, finger, what have you) has been" is a common jokey putdown, applicable to every man, woman, child, puppy, kitten, hetero, or homo. The idea that Kelly Ripa's intent was to suggest that Clay Aiken had his hand up someone's butt is ludicrous. Ms. Ripa was clearly startled and taken aback by Aiken's abrupt and inappropriate action (covering an interviewer's face and mouth in the middle of a question to shut her up??? Really pretty appalling), and spontaneously making it into a playful joke rather than upbraiding him (which is what I'm sure she would have liked to have done) showed considerable poise. There's enough serious homophobia in the media that there's no possible reason to read bigotry into a utterly neutral and inconsequential remark. I actually think minorities such as gays, African Americans, and women lose ground and credibility when they view every comment as an expression of hate speech, which is why Rosie's comment annoys me so much. I think accusing Kelly Ripa of something as ugly as publicly making a nasty homophobic remark to a closeted gay man is much worse than what she is accusing Kelly Ripa of doing. Rosie, lighten up!

    Posted by: Ajax | Nov 21, 2006 2:46:58 PM

  15. Big mean ugly Rosie yells at dainty, prissy Kelly. Oh, no! We are setting the gay movement back! My mommy will be mad!

    Posted by: jmg | Nov 21, 2006 2:49:59 PM

  16. AJAX - In quoting Ripa, you left off "...has been, HONEY" with a decidedly sarcastic tone. Would she have called Emmit Smith or Mario Lopez "honey"?

    Posted by: midnight lounge | Nov 21, 2006 2:50:24 PM

  17. I can only imagine the sheer terror closeted celebs like Clay and Tom Cruise must feel at all times.

    Posted by: jeff | Nov 21, 2006 2:52:41 PM

  18. Hmmmm, two new thoughts:

    1. Clay hasn't officially "come out" yet. Rosie making this an issue, is she really skirting around the fact and hoping her comments force Clay to address his sexuality? Perhaps she is more miffed that Clay is a closet case and not so much that Kelly made these remarks (c'mon, could she REALLY be that upset over this?), and is indirectly trying to get to Clay WITHOUT directly accusing him of being gay. Such as, "I came out when I was popular and faced the music, so WHY CAN'T YOU?

    2. Devil's advocate now, but a few people have emphasized Kelly's use of the word "honey" to a man. At first, I thought it was a stretch. HOWEVER, someone mentioned that she would never use that to someone such as Russell Crowe. That made some sense. Calling a man "honey" in the tone she did is something a gay man or someone in general would say to a girl or gay man. As Kelly clearly isn't a friend to Clay and based on her comments, I highly doubt she was doing it jokingly, as someone would to a a gay person in jest. So perhaps she was being a diva and/or making a homophobic reference...

    ... whoe knows. Honestly, I think in the end, everyone is making more of an issue out of this that necessary. Final thought: when Rosie picks this for a gay battle, it somewhat demeans true homosexual issues with homophobic remarks and makes future homophobic issues seem trifling...

    Posted by: Cory | Nov 21, 2006 2:54:35 PM

  19. "...minorities such as gays, African Americans, and women..."

    I know you didn't mean anything by this, Ajax, but women are actually the majority. :D

    I get your point though.

    Posted by: Anita Woodward | Nov 21, 2006 2:55:01 PM

  20. I'm disappointed that most chose to comment on who was more "right," Kelly or Rosie, rather than on Andy's excellent points about the double standard in media regarding supposed straights and assumed gays. [What pisses me off more is that unless the interviewee "reads" gay like Aiken or there have been stories about like Anderson Cooper—he/she is treated as if they must be straight.] While I'd also guess that Kelly isn't especially homophobic, if those who heard it in her tone are right, it might be because of the rumors about her hot husband's past related to his days as a low-rent Chippendale. PIX:

    As for Rosie, I agree she can be the definition of "pushy," excrutiatingly shrill and grating and inappropriate at times. BUT I think the good she does, both in individual acts of generosity and standing up unapologetically for gay rights and Bush brainwashing [WHO else is doing that as forcefully, if at all, on network TV at ANY time of the day?] outweighs the bad.

    Just this past weekend, a friend who regularly sees both "The View" and Ellen's talk show was commenting about how staggeringly popular they seem to be with their audiences. I'll take Rosie's "in your face" over Ellen's "back in the closet," thanks. [While no audience member under 30 has forgotten she's gay, apparently she has, Monday thru Fridays.]

    While both give shit away, Rosie recently brought on "The Amazing Race's" incredibly big-hearted Mary ["I've never met any gay people before. And you know what? I kinda like 'em."] and her coalminer husband David, after they were eliminated, and gifted them with everything from free trips on her LGBT family cruise [THAT should prove fascinating] to an SUV to a brand new three-bedroom house for the dirt poor family of four who had, heretofore, lived in a trailer.

    Given the rather anemic state of our gay celebrties, with a muted Ellen, a totally Missing In Action Jodie Foster, a paid-to-mince Alec Mapa on "Desperate Housewives" last Sunday night, a ubiquitous Reichen whose only really cause is his own adulation, I can bear Rosie's many mistakes.

    Posted by: Leland | Nov 21, 2006 2:58:17 PM

  21. LELAND: I have to agree with everything you wrote. I must admit, and forgive me for saying so, at certain times I scroll through your (rather long) comments as I don't have the time to read through them, but in this instance, I regret not doing so in the past. Very well written, thoughtful and level headed. Thanks =)

    Posted by: Cory | Nov 21, 2006 3:03:10 PM

  22. Obviously I meant "against Bush brainwashing." And, for those who didn't seen the episode, Mary's "I kinda like em" reference was to a gay couple on TAR10 not Rosie, LOL. But after going on the cruise, she will probably have met more gays than any one straight woman in all of Kentucky.

    Posted by: Leland | Nov 21, 2006 3:04:16 PM

  23. One of the first things you learn in KINDERGARTEN is to NOT PUT YOUR HANDS ON OTHER PEOPLE THAT DO NOT WANT YOUR HANDS ON THEM. In the manner that he put his hands over her mouth was to "shut her up" for whatever reason. Fact is, 'Live with Regis and Kelly' is not his show and with everything going on regarding his public persona, he should have been happy to see that some people still give enough of a damn to see him on TV and done his job which is to sit there, quip in every now and again, laugh, and promote whatever it is he is there to promote - thats it. Not disrespect the person whose name is in the title of the show you came to help springboard some more cd sales.

    Regarding whether or not Kelly's comment was homophobic, GIVE ME A BREAK. She does not know where his hands have been and vice versa. For all she knows before coming out he could have snotted all over and wiped it on his pants.

    Also, her tone on the word "Honey" is irrelevant - ask ANY woman how they would say the word when annoyed or feeling disrespected and you will have a very similar tone. Sorry gay men, we borrow pretty heavily from African American women (and Paris Hilton) for a lot of the phrases that we use on a daily basis.

    Point is - Gay, Bi, Transgendered, Straight, WHATEVER - you do not put your hands on or near someone elses face unless you have been given permission to do so. Even then you are not as rude to cover up someones mouth. The inflection of a word/phrase that "gay people use" does not make the word homophobic but it can set the tone and let someone else know to not do what they just did again.

    So let this one go folks and realize that everything is not a personal attack against us "gay people".

    Posted by: Kyle | Nov 21, 2006 3:04:51 PM

  24. I think Rosie was right to offer her view, and sometimes it's not intent but interpretation that can be the final word on an action. But I think Rosie misread the incident because she has some TOTALLY MISGUIDED sympathy for Clay. I'm not a huge Kelly fan in general, and Rosie I more like/selectively admire than view as someone I'm a fan of. In this case, I think Kelly was 101% right to dislike Clay, to chastise him for putting his hand over her mouth and to take the cheap—but warranted—shot about where the hand has been. It wasn't anti-gay, it was a reference to his hooker scandal, which just happened to be gay. I would like to see Rosie re-think this and apologize to Kelly for implying that she is a homophobe, rather than saying what she should have said, which was, "I'm sure Kelly didn't mean it that way, but the action struck me as homophobic...anyone?...anyone?"

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Nov 21, 2006 3:05:39 PM

  25. I have to disagree with Rosie on this one. Clay shouldn't have placed his hand over Ripa's mouth and his doing so, in my opinion, got him a deserved rebuke. Unless invited, people should keep their mitts off of others unless the two have an obvious history where these actions are tolerated without specific permission. To paraphrase Sigmund Freud.."sometimes a proper rebuke is just a proper rebuke." Save the ammo for the real stuff (just my opinion.)

    Posted by: bill | Nov 21, 2006 3:06:27 PM

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