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Now that America has had time to process yesterday's shocking bombshell that Clay Aiken is gay (and now that Debbie from accounting has gotten her breathing under control), People magazine has released excerpts from their exclusive cover interview. In it, Aiken discusses coming out to his mother four years ago, a rocky experience that may have prepared him for the real hurdle: weathering reaction from millions of hysterical Claymates.

Aiken says he expects the news may overwhelm some of his fans. "Whether it be having a child out of wedlock, or whether it be simply being a homosexual, it's going to be a lot," said Aiken, who returned to Broadway last week as Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot.

He adds that he hopes his fans "know that I've never intended to lie to anybody at all. ... But if they leave, I don't want them to leave hating me." ...As for his own child, Aiken tells PEOPLE that Parker – who was conceived via in vitro fertilization with his best friend, music producer Jaymes Foster – will be raised in an environment that is "accepting and allowing him to be happy." Says Aiken: "I have no idea if he'll be gay or straight. It's not something I'll have anything to do with, or that he'll have anything to do with. It's already probably up inside the code there ... No matter what the situation you're in, if you're raised in a loving environment, that's the most important thing."

We can only hope that Aiken's dedicated fans can overcome their devastation to realize that though they may never be Mrs. Clayton Holmes Grissom Aiken, neither will any other woman. Eventually, when Aiken finds love with a Tennessee personal trainer who then goes on to sell his story for $50,000 and photo refusal to InTouch Weekly, Aiken will need each and every one of you. Be there for him, won't you? [Photo Credit: AP]