Inspiration and Potty Training - Melissa Etheridge is More Than A Lesbian With Breasts
"Hi, this is Alyssa." "No, it's Melissa." "No, you're Melissa, I'm Alyssa!"
So started my chat with Melissa Etheridge.
I’m a fan. Though I don’t think I can name one of her songs – there is one about a window, I know that much – I’ve always really liked her. She has always seemed to embody what I look for in people: courage, honesty, strength, humor and a serious disregard for the shallow. And a singing voice, the thing that I most covet and do not have, at all.
I had been concentrating very hard on a list of questions, so that I would stay focused on the issue at hand, which is breast cancer. But I know myself, and think I’m a bit doomed. I’m about as chatty as they come, and my ability to focus is matched only by my ability to sing.
Melissa is currently giving her time and talent to the Hard Rock Cafe’s Pinktober project, aimed at raising awareness and money in support of breast cancer research. She’ll be touring the country hosting Pinktober parties at Hard Rock locations across the country.
Naturally, I asked her about her activism. She’s a working mom, who has only recently kicked cancer’s ass, so how does she – how can we all – find the time and energy to actively support the causes that matter to us. Her answer was deceptively simple. She suggested that all it’s really about is just standing up and telling the truth. How hard can that be?
“I decided a long time ago,” she tells me, “as I was starting down this path, that I would stand up and say, ‘hey this is my truth.’ The first time, it was about gay issues. And I found that the minute I opened that door and stood in my truth, it was perceived as ‘giving,’ as being an activist. I thought, ‘wow,’ just speaking one’s truth is an act of activism.”
In my heart, I knew she was right. But all I could say was, “wow, that’s kind of sad!” In a world that is going a thousand miles an hour and fed a steady diet of expectations, simply being true to yourself – and saying so out loud – can be a very hard thing.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Melissa’s 2-year-old daughter is running around in the background, and the telltale sounds of family are coming through. She’s being potty trained, something I remember well. I cheated, I told Melissa. When my daughter was almost there, I told her that we ran out of diapers and we couldn’t get any more. But it worked. Melissa and I both laughed – there is an understanding amongst mothers that we’re all imperfect. That is it’s own liberating truth.
We’re already getting off track a bit. I tell her that I was largely raised by gay guys. My father is gay, and when I was growing up, that was a very strange thing. This was long before Will & Grace and Queer Eye For The Straight Guy made it trendy. I would find myself not bringing it up when I was young, or not admitting to it, because it was so misunderstood. It was the 80’s, AIDS had just broken on the scene and there was this scary mentality that somehow the gay people were going to cause the next plague. I knew my father, I loved my father and his partner, and I knew it wasn’t a problem. But as a child, it was something I could make no sense of. So I avoided it.
As an adult, I have become a strong supporter of gay rights, because it is my truth.
The rest of the interview is wonderful, but too long to print here.... I hope you'll read it in the magazine and forward it on to people you think will also be inspired by it.