Sunday, February 28, 2010

Clay Aiken Campaigns for Rights

HRC video of Clay Aiken courtesy of Pam's House Blend.

'It's About Damn Time'

Singer Speaks at 2010 HRC Gala

Clay Aiken's speech at the Human Rights Campaign Carolinas Gala in Raleigh Saturday was eloquent, passionate, and even sprinkled with his trademark humor as he outlined the long, arduous path preceding major civil rights milestones, most often achieved after "it was about damn time."

This was not a pop concert appearance, but several of the singer's supporters attended the event and a cellcert was beamed to fans around the globe.

For sure, the title of the speech is the line Clay reiterated throughout about the personal and civil rights segments: "It's About Damn Time."

To me, one of the most moving lines occurred when he discussed a person's decision to come out: "I know that the power of truth and living honestly is very liberating."

The video of Clay's speech is from Pam Spaulding's blog,
Pam's House Blend. A North Carolinian, Pam provided a running commentary of the HRC gala in her House Blend blog. The other keynote speaker was actress-producer Meredith Baxter, whose speech is also cued on the opening player.

Sendspace downloads of Clay's speech are available in video and audio formats.

Clay and Pam Spaulding at HRC Gala.

Clay addresses HRC Carolinas meet. (Photo by Cotton)

Meredith Baxter poses with Pam Spaulding.

Achievements of the organization's Equality Award honorees -- Greensboro's Guilford Green Foundation, Mary Elizabeth Lennon of Charlotte, and David Parker of Colfax -- are published here.

Speech Outlines Civil Rights Milestones

Clay's speech was not long. These are among the highlights:

We've seen throughout our nation's history that all the major civil rights movements, major milestones in our country have come after a lot of waiting and a lot of hard, long-fought work.

Thankfully, while many of us have been waiting, you at the HRC have been fighting to ensure that LGBT Americans have the same rights that straight Americans take for granted.

As HRC's name implies, our battle is about something much larger than the LGBT community. It's about that most American of notions that all men and women are created equal. (That is, with the exception of my son, who is brilliant.)

The belief which this nation was founded on is the cornerstone of our movement; and, as I said, it has been the cornerstone of every major civil rights movement in our nation's history.
  • In 1920 when the 19th amendment was passed which gave every American woman the right to vote, it was about damn time.

  • In 1954, Brown vs. Board of Education desegregated our schools. It was about damn time.

  • In 1964 when the Civil Rights Acts was passed banning discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, it was about damn time.

  • And last year when the Matthew Shepard and James Berg, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed, it was most certainly about damn time.
The LGBT community has seen and obtained unprecedented visibility and legitimacy in America. We have a great deal more work to do to ensure that LGBT individuals and families have the same rights and same freedoms that straight Americans have.

I know that my son's world will be a better one because no one no matter how hard they try, they are not going to stop our progress.

And like those civil rights movements that came before, our message is the message of fairness, of righteousness, of decency. Our message is the message of the future. Our time is now, and it is about damn time.

Cotton, who generated the feed so fans could listen to the speech as it occurred, added this observation:

At the HRC Gala last night, I saw a room filled with people who were full of love. It was a very hopeful evening of celebrating progress and fighting for what everyone wants - the right to live and love equally. I'm so so honored to have been there.

Below are clickables of Cotton's podium photo and a collage of her HRC pictures by Fountaindawg:

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!



Stephanie said...

He really has it all, doesn't he? I'm continually reminded of that every time we see appearances from him. He's eloquent, intelligent, talented and stunningly handsome, and he's got such a big heart and isn't afraid to speak out. What a guy. *swoon* Great post, Caro! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Caro,

You are amazing!!!! I nominate you as Clay's personal PR Manager.

Stephanie said it perfectly, "He's eloquent, intelligent, talented and stunningly handsome, and he's got such a big heart and isn't afraid to speak out."

Thank You for a GREAT blog.....Hope your having a great weekend.


jbc4clay said...

Such a wonderful speech and great stage presence he has. Thank you so much for the video and the excerpts.

katy said...

I'm so proud of Clay Aiken. He speaks and people listen. He can be an advocate for gay civil rights.

IamMesmerized said...

Hi Caro,

Great blog once again.

Our guy is one extraordinary fella! He can do so much so well and with so much panache! I thought his speech was amazing, brief but to the point. People listen to speeches like this .... not the ones who go on and on and on. I am sure he made as big an impact on the attendees as he did on his fans.

Anonymous said...

Great job Caro, I didn't think it would long before we heard from you
about this special man and his heart felt speech. Thanks for the link.


ImGranny said...

Another great blog! Thank you! Clay Aiken is a natural when he speaks before a group, whether it be a formal setting or a concert setting. I loved his speech.

Aspiegirl44 said...

Thank you for this blog Caro. I came here to read your blog and this thought popped in my head:

"Its funny how people talk about supporting LGBT Rights. Then they turn around and discuss HOW and WHEN they should come out. How ironic is that."

What Clay has done for many people has always awed me and this one is very close to home for me. I wonder if I will ever live to experience the day when I can write the words "I am gay" without fear of judgement. Even in a small comment box such as this.

It is Clay and many others who are brave enough to speak out that may make that day possible for me and many others who are discriminated against. The day when fear is gone.

To me it can all be summed up in one word - one word that we all know so well: INCLUSION

Thank you Caro - not just for this blog but for your acceptance of me and my partner. You could have judged but you simply included instead. I hope you know how much that meant to both of us.

Then I see my Nation of Clay stand up for LGBT rights. I see them stand up for human rights. I see them including. I see them as "the many others" I mentioned above:

Clay and many others = all of you who have cared.

Its not just those who speak up on the podium that make a difference. That can only work if their words are heard and you all did hear and because of that - doors can begin to open for many people.

Thank you everyone. And yes Caro - I wrote a blog in your comment box. lol



LovesClaysVoice said...

Great blog Caro! I am in such awe of Clay Aiken! I have watched his speech many times and I am just amazed at this man! He has it all....including my heart! I'm very proud to call myself a fan from the very beginning. I saw someone very special way back in 2003 and he has proven time and time again that my instincts were right.

kfccanada said...

Aspiegirl44...I have admired your work for such a long time; you have incredible talent. The day will come when you feel strong enough in yourself to say what you truly long to say to the world.

A line from 'Me and Bobby McGee' just popped into my head....'Freedom 's just another word for nothing left to lose'...and that's what will change your mind and allow you to make your declaration of independence...the day you feel your admitting you're gay won't make any adverse difference in your current life.

You've fought through adversity before...perhaps, your admission of being gay will not have as dire a consequence as you're thinking. Those who matter in your life will not be shocked or upset; those who don't matter to you...well, who cares what they think?

Clay spoke so wonderfully! Am so proud of him! Ten years down the road, this entire issue will be a non-issue. Change will happen as more and more come out ...and do it proudly. There are millions out there waiting for the courage to say the words,too. It'll happen!

MissSally said...

Clay is the master at combining humor and grace, with a powerful message. "It's About Damn Time", will not easily be forgotten or overlooked.

Thanks, Caro, for another great blog.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great speech. I am so proud of the person he is.

I missed leaving a comment on your last blogs, but I did read them, Caro, just didn't have time to comment. Will try to do better.


Sandy said...

Clay's speech was everything I expected it to be and more. His way with words captivates his audiences. He keeps it simple, throws a few punches, sprinkles it with some comedy and then delivers it with a poise only Clay knows and what we love!

A great blog! Thanks Caro!

musicfan123 said...

Clay Aiken is an amazing man. I was excited ti hear his speech.....and it was wonderful.

Thank you for sharing all the info about the night. I can always count on you to give us the scoop!!

deyabird said...

What a great speech. I am so proud of Clay.