Clay Aiken

Bruce Glikas / Getty Images

So Clay Aiken is officially gay. Is it time for him to say goodbye to his Claymates? Will this hurt or help his career?
—Heather, Santa Monica

Career? Eh? Does he have one of those? Hold one, lemme check ...

Looks like Aiken has sold just over half the number of the albums that Kelly Clarkson has—4.8 million versus Clarkson's 9.4 million. That ranks him higher than Fantasia and Daughtry, but below Carrie Underwood, who ranks just under Clarkson in album sales. USA Today has given his career so far a "B" grade, better then Ruben Studdard, but then again, the lead singer from Sublime has a better career than Studdard—and he's dead.

So, the future of Aiken's career, in one word, is...

Up.

That's what image gurus tell me, thanks in large part to his treacly People magazine cover, ham-handed as the timing may be. As publicist Howard Bragman points out to me, most of the big stars who have come out in recent years have only seen their careers rise.

Neil Patrick Harris has been nominated for two Emmys and has grown so popular that fans know him simply as NPH. Lindsay Lohan told a radio show just the other day that she's dating a woman; nothing much has happened since then. Lance Bass has a Q Score that is in no way linked to 'N Sync. T.R. Knight has a SAG award. And Ellen DeGeneres, of course, has her own talk show—and a makeup contract.

"Everyone that I have worked with who has come out has advanced their career afterward," Bragman tells me.

Bragman predicts a flurry of press for Aiken in a variety of publications—from gay to entertainment to lifestyle—exposure that could parlay into a dozen different career routes.

I suspect an autobiography-type book is almost certainly in the offing. And the dewy stories coming out about Clay's, well, coming out, will doubtless fuel sales of whatever his next album or Broadway show will be. In the years since Elton John has come out, that artist has still managed to charge top dollar for his concert tickets, most recently, in Las Vegas, where fans pay about $250 to see him. Who knows, maybe Clay can head out there and surround himself with trained white lions for a while.

Whatever the case, I look forward to seeing Clay Aiken's choice in costumes whenever he joins the cast of Dancing With the Stars.

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