Rosie O’Donnell and Kelly Ripa aren’t ready to put their feud aside, stemming from what O’Donnell describes as a 2006 “gay bashing” incident involving Clay Aiken.
In the new tell-all book Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View’ by Ramin Setoodeh, O’Donnell recounts the fallout after “American Idol” alum Aiken co-hosted “Live With Regis And Kelly”. During the episode, when Aiken jokingly put his hand over Ripa’s mouth, she exclaimed, “I don’t know where that’s been, honey!” At the time, Aiken had not publicly come out as a gay man.
The next day, O’Donnell called it “a homophobic remark” while on “The View”, adding, “If that was a straight man, if that was a cute man, if that was a guy that she didn’t question his sexuality, she would’ve said a different thing.”
In her recollection, O’Donnell says she spoke with Aiken about it, offering him comfort and support when he appeared on “The View” the following day.
“He had come into my dressing room, crying about whether or not to come out. And I sat down with him and I talked to him. He was inching his way out in the way so many born-again Southern Christians have to. I hugged him. Not only do I feel the ’20 years older mother’ thing, I feel the ’20 years old younger gay’ thing,” she says, according to Setoodeh’s book. “So I had just held a crying boy and then watched him be gay bashed by Kelly Ripa.”
Aiken’s recollection varies slightly from O’Donnell’s order of events.
“She took my hand, looked me dead in the eye and with more warmth than I think people would imagine she has, she said, ‘Listen, I’m your sister.’ I teared up. It was the very first time a stranger had ever gotten me to come out to them,” he recalls. “The truth is, she outed me in a way, because I had not been out yet. When she said the words, ‘If that was a straight man,’ she was confirming that she knew that I wasn’t. That was the worst day of my life. I don’t think I’d had a moment more devastating to me. I remember feeling like s*** that day and totally defeated. But I definitely wasn’t mad at her.”
After O’Donnell slammed Ripa on “The View”, Ripa called in to the show while live on air, calling their claims she was homophobic “downright outrageous.” Since then, the rift has continued.
“I think Kelly Ripa is mean and she doesn’t like me, and she has never wanted to discuss what happened. She wanted to have this weird feud,” O’Donnell says. “I see her at concerts sometimes. She just looks away.”