While not everyone is surprised by Clay Aiken's decision to come out of the closet (speaking to Extra, Simon Cowell said dryly, "It's like being told Santa Claus isn't real"), there is one sort of person who's had to take the workday off to burn Anthropologie candles and listen to "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on repeat, and she is the "Claymate." Aiken's most ardent fans are predictably in a lather about the revelation, with reactions running the gamut of the Kübler-Ross cycle of grief (albeit with more emoticons).

strollynn63: This is a gut wrenching day for The ClayNation. Somebody wake me up, I hope its a dream.

More reactions from The Clayboard, after the jump:

Holmes24: please tell me I'm not the only one who is shocked beyond belief! I feel numb I'm so upset. This can't be real!! How can you guys say this won't change anything? This changes EVERYTHING. I don't even know what to think right now. :-( strollynn63: I have worked with many gays, the nature of the hairdressing business... LET ME SAY THAT I'M STILL A FAN OF HIS VOICE.....NOT SO MUCH A FAN OF HIS....CHOICE....

Some Claymates are coping with the news by predicting an elaborate conspiracy:

CLAYGAL: I don't understand the timing of all this information, or supposed information. I'm not making any assumptions until I actually see credible information . Is that actually Parker in the photo? Some of my friends think the baby looks older than a child a month old.

While others, slowly, are coming to terms with the shock:

love OMC: I had my hard time with it after the Diane Sawyer interview of 2006. I was ill over it. Then I went into denial. However, this time out (as it were), I am accepting. Claymd4evr: My daughter called me at work today to tell me the news - I admit I cried a little...Because I strongly believed Clay was probably gay and I wanted to understand & love him better, I attended a gay & lesbian ministry workshop at a religious education conference. Claybe 2: Why is it that the good looking ones are gay? JNLPrecious Clay: All I know is that I love Clay, and I could never leave him. I still think he is a sexy gorgeous hunk of man, and nothing is going to change that.

While we worry that angry hairdresser "strollynn63" will take the news out on her innocent colorist Alberto, we hope that for the rest of the ClayNation, peace and acceptance will soon be close at hand. Yes, some embittered fans may defect to Aiken rival Ruben Studdard, but upon their shocking arrival at Studdard's tumbleweed-strewn message board (last message, May 2005: "Discuss Ruben's Cameo on 8 Simple Rules"), we have a feeling they'll be back.