“Color Purple” author Alice Walker admits affair with Tracy Chapman

Author Alice Walker discussed her affair in the 90s with folksy alternative music artist Tracy Chapman in a recent interview. She said she didn’t want to serve as anyone’s poster woman for lesbianism, and that’s why she’s kept quiet about it up until now.

I tell her people are still fascinated by her love affair with the singer Tracy Chapman in the mid-1990s. Moments earlier she had said firmly but politely that she didn’t want to answer any questions about her family life. (Her daughter Rebecca, from her marriage to Levanthal, published a frank memoir in 2000 in which she criticised the self-absorption of both parents after their divorce.) So I was surprised to see her face light up at the mention of Chapman. “Yeah I loved it too. Absolutely.”

Why was it kept so quiet at the time? “It was quiet to you maybe but that’s because you didn’t live in our area,” she answers with a throaty laugh. She has written about the relationship in her journals, which she plans to publish one day. So why did they decide against using their relationship to make a big social impact like other celebrity lesbian couples, such as Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, have in the past? The idea seems to amuse her. “I would never do that. My life is not to be somebody else’s impact – you know what I mean? And it was delicious and lovely and wonderful and I totally enjoyed it and I was completely in love with her but it was not anybody’s business but ours.”

Alice Walker has a new book of controversial politically-minded essays out called, “We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For,” that her more mainstream publisher, Random House, would not print. It is put out by New Press.

When Walker and Chapman were together, Walker would have been about 40 while Chapman was around 30. It doesn’t seem that surprising that they had an affair, and good for Walker for owing up to it. Now if only Alice Walker champion Oprah would admit to a relationship with her best friend Gail, that would make headlines.

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6 Responses to ““Color Purple” author Alice Walker admits affair with Tracy Chapman”

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  1. Anastasia says:

    The whole thing with Oprah and Gail–I don’t know if they are rolling around in the sheets or not, but why can’t two women be close friends without this insinuation? I guess I’m lucky I’m not famous or people would be assuming my best friend and I do the dirty deed. There’s nothing romantic there, but we’re as close as sisters, and love each other dearly.

    As for Walker and Chapman, hey, it sounds like they both had a great time together! I love Walker’s writing.

  2. funflower says:

    Wow, I love this. I have always loved Traci Chapman’s music and her voice, but not before now have I ever seen how absolutely stunningly beautiful she is. That photo of her is gorgeous. Good on them.

  3. Gigohead says:

    It looked to me that Alice Walker explored ‘bicuriousity” in the Color Purple. If anyone recalls this, Whoopie Goldberg’s character, Cecile get kissed by a woman.

    So am I reading clearly, Walker was in a hetro relationship when she was with Chapman?

  4. boobaloob says:

    Alice Walker and her ex-husband divorced in the mid-70s, so no, her relationship with Chapman was not adulterous.

  5. demondoll says:

    I remember some song in the 90’s, I thought wlaker was in the video?

  6. Jennie says:

    In the book _The Color Purple_, it was much, much more than a kiss between the two women. The film toned it down a lot.