Melissa Etheridge on the not gay/straight enough debate

Melissa Etheridge arrives at Kennedy Center Honors in Washington
Melissa Etheridge has a new interview with PopEater that I really enjoyed reading. I saw Melissa on Oprah a few weeks ago and found her both upfront and really likable. She’s outspoken, positive, down to earth and is really trying to find meaning in her life. There’s been some controversy over her split with longterm partner, Tammy Michaels, with Etheridge claiming their split was mutual and Tammy mentioning in since-removed blog posts that she was “blindsided” and hinting that Tammy was lying. Tammy’s thoughts on the matter were in the form of semi-vague poetry, and she hasn’t stated anything outright. Apart from that minor issue Etheridge has so far avoided criticism for the split and we haven’t heard much gossip about it. I think a lot of that is due to her character and the way she seems so upfront.

PopEater asked her about the separation, with Melissa again saying that it “didn’t happen overnight” (Tammy might disagree) and that she wished the timing didn’t coincide with her album release. She also addressed the recent controversy over a Newsweek columnist who argued that gay actors couldn’t play straight characters. Melissa hadn’t even heard of that, and said she thought it was ridiculous.

Did you separate from Tammy before writing this album?
It was written before we actually physically separated, but you know, breakups just don’t happen overnight.

It must suck having the album and the separation emerge at the same time. Do you wish the timing was different?
[Laughs] Absolutely! When I saw these things were about to collide for a while there I thought, I don’t want this to come up on top of the album, and then I started doing interviews and they’re like, “You’re such a family girl, your marriage is great, what’s the key to a great marriage?” and I was like, “Oh, I can’t sit here and lie.” But I would have definitely made the timing different.

So is the song ‘Miss California’ about Tammy?
That’s a political song. It’s about California passing Proposition 8.

A Newsweek writer said Sean Hayes was too gay to be in ‘Promises Promises.’ Kristin Chenoweth wrote a letter in his defense and Ryan Murphy from ‘Glee’ called for a boycott of the magazine.
Oh, the gays are getting miffed! Don’t tell us we’re too gay or not or whatever. Oh lord, what is gay, anyway? Find me the line — find me the defining line between gay and straight. Find me the defining line between male and female. There is no line. You cannot draw this line in the sand. Yes, there are plenty of people way over there who will never partake in anything straight and there are people way over there who will never partake in anything gay, but there’s a whole lot of gray in the middle. Where’s the line? Behind all of it is sexual insecurity. It’s sexphobia.

Have you been accused of not being gay enough?
Oh sure. I’ve had the gay community say, “Why don’t you write a song saying ‘her’? Your lyrics are non-gender.” They’re never happy. And the straight folks, they just assume the lyrics are about a woman, and they assume that if they go to a concert it’s going to be all gay people. There are stereotypes we all have. But there’s no us and them. Good God, we’re all the same.

Have you ever been approached to have your songs on ‘Glee?’
No, I don’t think they’re gay enough. [Laughs]

[From Popeater]

She’s too funny! I’ve noticed that Etheridge’s songs don’t make a reference to either gender and could be interpreted like she’s singing to a man or a woman. To me that just makes them more accessible and isn’t about whether she’s trying to sing straight or not. She makes catchy meaningful songs and that’s what matters, not who she’s referring to. I like her explanation that there’s a spectrum and it’s hard to draw a line in the sand between straight and gay. Sometimes it’s necessary, though, when there are so many forces working to deny rights to a specific group of people.

32nd Kennedy Center Honors

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19 Responses to “Melissa Etheridge on the not gay/straight enough debate”

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  1. Dorothy says:

    Not looking very good.

  2. Oi says:

    Thanks God, a smart opinion on this issue! Now why can’t she get all the publicity the whiners get?

  3. Tess says:

    Can’t look at her without thinking of the ridiculous LuAnn’snew boyfriend on RHNY!!!

  4. Tess says:

    Can’t look at her without thinking of the ridiculous LuAnn’s new boyfriend on RHNY!!!

  5. lisa says:

    “sing straight”, “act straight”? what do these things even meeeeaaaannnnnn…..?!

    I love Melissa. Good post.

    I’m angered by the whole idea that sexuality is an identifiable part of someone’s personality/expression – to me, it’s irrelevant that Melissa is gay – when I look and listen to her, all I can describe about her is that she’s a strong, talented, funny woman.

    “Gay” or “straight” as a descriptive noun, to me, is offensive.

    Anyone else feel me on this one?

  6. zen says:

    I lover her music. I also love the fact that her songs could be interpreted for a man or woman. Im sick of so much focus on these celebs sexual orientation. I couldn’t care less about that. If they have talent, they have talent regardless of which gender they prefer.

  7. Alexa says:

    Love her and wishing her continued career success and personal peace. Gosh – I’m glad that she’s just a great rocker – so much so that even all the rednecks from my neck of the woods love her. She’s AWESOME!! Stay healthy Melissa and KEEP ROCKIN’!

  8. Oi says:

    @lisa: I agree, but then you get people like Adam Lambert…

  9. bellaluna says:

    Melissa is a truly talented woman. She writes her songs, plays guitar, and sings in her unique, powerful voice. She’s amazing, and I don’t care about her sexual preference, as long as she’s healthy and happy.

  10. Big Mama says:

    I love her and yes @lisa, I’m with you.
    & @bellaluna I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  11. rraven says:

    There was a time the phrase “bi-curious” was popular because gay, straight etc are just words and they don’t always define the spectrum of human sexuality very well. But I think male/female is pretty clear cut, biologically speaking except in very few instances and even then one sex is dominant. Its a different argument when you’re trying to ascertain what society defines as masculine or feminine though so maybe thats what she means by there is no line in the sand.

  12. freckles says:

    Wow, this interview was awesome, I love her answers to everything. She sounds very grounded and has a great sense of humor, love her! And I think it’s smart of her to keep her songs ambiguous rather than adding gender pronouns… that way it just appeals to the largest number of people possible you know?

  13. Francesca says:

    She proves that your nose continues to grow as you age…

  14. EMV says:

    Has she ever been accused of not being gay enough? REALLY, you have to be kidding me

  15. mj says:

    I love Melissa E. So talented. But I really get the feeling she began to see/fall for someone else and left Tammy for her.

  16. canadianchick says:

    Love Melissa, she’d be great on Glee.

  17. Rosanna says:

    Straight and gay are words that refer to sexual orientation ONLY. They do not refer to singing, acting, loving, doing politics, and stuff like that. Implying that there is a “gay” way of singing is one of the worst stereotypes I’ve ever heard.

  18. Tia says:

    She is so her. I also love her and Tammy’s family. Who knows they may work it out. What a beautiful, loving, healthy family. The rest of Hollywood could learn some positive things from the.

  19. Ex-Fan says:

    I’m an ex-fan. She totally screwed Tammy over and she knows it. She is SO NOT a “family girl”, that’s why she couldn’t sit there and lie about it in interviews. It’s nice that Melissa is on her “fearless” love journey of finding happiness and satisfaction for herself. Too bad, three other people are are hurting. She’s not getting back together with Tammy because she’s already got someone else.