Rosie O'Donnell: Kelly Ripa is Mean and She Gay Bashed Clay Aiken!

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Rosie O'Donnell's tell-all book, Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Story of The View, is stirring up a lot of old issues.

From admitting to having had a crush on Elisabeth Hasselbeck to declaring that Whoopi Goldberg is mean, Rosie is taking no prisoners.

Now, she is slamming Kelly Ripa as "mean," and compares a remark Kelly once made to Clay Aiken to "gay-bashing."

Clay Aiken and Kelly Ripa 2006 throwback

First, let's go way back to the incident in question. The year was 2006.

Live With Regis And Kelly was a thing, and they were joined by guest host Clay Aiken.

At one point, Clay put his hand over Kelly's mouth, and Kelly rebuffed him, jokingly saying: "I don’t know where that’s been, honey!"

Rosie O'Donnell saw that and she went off on it on The View the next day.

Because Clay Aiken had not yet come out as gay to the public, she viewed Kelly's words as deeply offensive and even dangerous.

Rosie O'Donnell 2006 throwback

Speaking on The View, Rosie said that Kelly Ripa's words were "a homophobic remark."

"If that was a straight man, if that was a cute man, if that was a guy that she didn’t question his sexuality," Rosie claimed. "She would’ve said a different thing."

Shockingly, Kelly called in and the producers actually put her through to speak to the panelists.

Kelly called Rosie's accusations "downright outrageous."

In her new book, written by Ramin Setoodeh, Rosie explains why she was so incensed.

Rosie O'Donnell Snapshot

"A few days before he went on Live he had been a guest on The View," the book notes.

Rosie recalls: “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," Rosie says. "He was inching his way out in the way so many born-again Southern Christians have to."

"I hugged him," Rosie describes. "Not only do I feel the twenty-years-older mother thing, I feel the twenty-years-old younger-gay thing.” 

Solidarity within the LGBTQ+ community has kept many people alive in a world that wanted them silent or dead.

Rosie Photograph

"So," Rosie explains. "I had just held a crying boy and then watched him be gay bashed by Kelly Ripa."

Gay bash refers to, very specifically, violent attacks against people who are or are perceived to be LGBTQ+ and usually men believed to be gay or bi.

This can come from associates, neighbors, or family, but also from total strangers who are looking to ruin someone's life -- or end it.

Even if Kelly's remark were homophobic, it should not be compared to gay-bashing.

"After the show, Rosie heard from Aiken," the book details. "First, she said that he thanked her for defending him."

Clay apparently said to her: "I didn’t know how to come out, so you just did it."

Clay Aiken on the Red Carpet

Clay also gave his account of the events in Rosie's book, and he was pretty up-front about remembering things differently.

"I have a horrible memory, but I know exactly how this s--t went down,” Clay says.

"Aiken said he’d been worried about his interview on The View," the book mentions.

He was nervous "because a prominent news anchor had warned him the cohosts might ask him about his sexuality on TV. But that didn’t happen."

Remember, Barbara Walters famously asked Ricky Martin about his sexual orientation. Years later, she cites it as a major regret.

Clay Aiken Snapshot

"Instead," the book details. "Rosie invited Aiken to her dressing room to talk privately before the show."

Clay recalls her "kicking out her makeup team and his bodyguard."

Clay says that she told him: ‘You need to find yourself a boyfriend in North Carolina -- not in New York or Los Angeles -- and just live peacefully there."

"You’re very presumptuous, Rosie," Clay responded, because he was still not "out."

At the time, Rosie knew that he was gay because, you know, she could just tell. Many considered it an open secret at the time.

Clay Aiken Pose

"She took my hand, looked me dead in the eye," he describes.

Clay narrates: "And with more warmth than I think people would imagine she has, she said, ‘Listen, I’m your sister.’"

"I teared up," Clay admits. "It was the very first time a stranger had ever gotten me to come out to them."

However, he notes that when she called out Kelly's remark as homophobic just days later, he fell to pieces.

Why? Because he felt like Rosie had just outed him in front of the world.

"That was the worst day of my life," Clay admits, but clarifies that he was not angry with Rosie over it.

Kelly Ripa in Red

But Rosie says that the fallout from Kelly Ripa endures to this very day.

"I think Kelly Ripa is mean and she doesn’t like me, and she has never wanted to discuss what happened," Rosie accuses in her book.

Rosie adds: "She wanted to have this weird feud."

She clarifies that, like so many of us who were watching television in the '90s, Rosie has fond memories of Kelly from her role on All My Children.

"I see her at concerts sometimes," Rosie notes. "She just looks away."

Rosie admits to being angry about the producer buzzing Kelly into the conversation on The View in the first place.

She says that she warned him that if it happened again, she would quit. She says that she ultimately quit because it happened again.

Kelly Ripa Red Carpet Pic

So, real talk? Here's our breakdown of this whole dang mess.

One, we know that it was 2006, but Clay should not have put his hand over Kelly's mouth.

That's not a gay thing or even a #MeToo thing in this case, it's just inappropriate in all realistic situations.

Two, Kelly's remark has nothing to do with anybody's orientation.

My grandmother's mother would say that men should never be allowed to do dishes, because "you don't know where their hands have been."

That's certainly one way of explaining to children why so much household labor is done by only one gender ... we suppose.

Kelly Ripa in black jumpsuit

It is clear that Rosie felt extremely protective of Clay because he was obviously gay yet clearly struggling to come out.

This was an issue for him on a personal level and on a professional one. He was worried about his life and career.

Unfortunately, in Rosie's concern, she accidentally helped out him -- which should never happen.

It would be awesome if Rosie and Kelly could lay their feud to rest, but ...  we won't hold our breath.

That feud is so old that it will become a teenager this year. It could last for decades to come.

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Rosie O'Donnell Biography

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Rosie O'Donnell used to be a host on The View. She's known for her liberal views on the world, but also for the unusual, obnoxious ways... More »
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Rosie O'Donnell