Former “American Idol” contestant Clay Aiken offered his thoughts on the scandal surrounding “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson‘s anti-gay comments on Thursday night, saying that such comments and attitudes are “built out of fear.”
Clay dropped in to discuss the topic on “The Arsenio Hall Show” on Thursday, telling his former “Celebrity Apprentice” castmate that Robertson’s comments prove that society still has “a long way to go” in accepting homosexuality.
“I think it certainly shows that we’ve got a long way to go when it comes to people being accepting and understanding,” Aiken, who came out as gay in 2008, said. “Homophobia, racism …. all of it’s built out of fear. All of it’s out of fear. And if you grow up in an area like Louisiana and you’re not exposed to diversity, then you can be afraid of things.”
Aiken also expressed frustration with the Robertson defenders who’ve said that the reality TV star has a right to free speech.
“I think the thing that frustrates me the most is that there have been people who’ve come out today and said, ‘It’s free speech, it’s free speech,'” Aiken continued. “And I would ask them … if the person had said something about interracial marriage, or said that we should put all children with disabilities in institutions, would we still say, ‘Well, that’s free speech, we’re okay with that opinion?’ And I think the answer is no.”
Aiken did, however, say that society has made progress in its acceptance of gays — though total acceptance isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.
“Homophobia is one thing that we’re still a little accepting of in certain areas. I think it’s progress; we’ll get there,” Aiken offered. “I don’t have any belief or any designs on the fact that it’s going to happen overnight.”
Robertson was suspended indefinitely from Duck Dynasty on Wednesday, after he lumped gays in with “drunks” and “terrorists” during an interview with GQ. He also opined that gays “won’t inherit the kingdom of God.”
Robertson, the family patriarch on the A&E series, describes himself as a former adherent to the sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle, who turned to Jesus Christ after hitting rock bottom.
The Robertson family issued a statement on Thursday, saying that they “cannot imagine” doing “Duck Dynasty” without Phil, and that they are “in discussions” with A&E about the matter.
The new season of “Duck Dynasty” premieres Jan. 15.
Watch Aiken discuss the issue with Hall in this video: