An Interview with Melissa Etheridge

AE: One of the themes that I hear on the album is about being true to yourself and it comes off as very personal. Is that something that happened in your life and then you began putting in into music, or was it you found yourself writing about it and then it was reflected in your life?
Huh. I don’t really know what comes first — the chicken or the egg? I know that I have — after breast cancer, I really have been on a journey of identity, of self-love, I suppose. Knowing that I’m no good for anybody else unless I’m true to myself, and love myself and truly know that I’m in this reality, I’m in this world to figure things out for myself — not to be something else for somebody else. And that was the message I started understanding and the journey I started walking six years ago and everything else kind of came from that. Whether the music came first or the actual doing it, I don’t know.

AE: I’m sure you’re aware of Chely Wright having recently come out.
Oh yeah!

AE: I was just reading this interview with her where she said she was fans of yours and k.d. lang’s, but she was scared to buy any of your albums in Nashville because people would think she was gay. Have you ever met her or given her any advice at all?
Haven’t met her yet. I actually heard about that, too, and I say well then how many people — or women or men, I don’t know — don’t buy my albums because it means they’re gay or someone might see them. I thought "My gosh!" I mean, I know it’s a joke, people will say you know, "A Melissa Etheridge concert is a gay cliche," or something. And I thought about that and said, "Oh my gosh, how tragic, but how funny." Anyway, no, I haven’t spoken to her.

AE: It’s probably easier now with the internet and iTunes, where nobody has to see you or judge you. So what do you think about the climate now, for coming out? Chely is in country and you are more mainstream in rock so it’s a little bit different, but do you think it’s easier than when you came out, or do you think it’s better for someone like Chely in her career to become successful first and then decide to come out?
I try not to "should" anyone. I think — I know that for the individual, it is healthier, no matter what you’re doing in your life, no matter what level of success, no matter celebrity or not, just you’re in school or wherever you are, it is healthier for you to speak and walk your truth. You’re just going to be happier and healthier, so I would hope that for anyone. When someone’s in the public eye, it’s twice as much, because you feel like you’re lying twice as much, and lying is a very dark energy to swallow, and it will make you sick.

AE: Is there ever a time you shy away from doing something because you almost feel like it might be "too gay" and you worry about alienating non-gay listeners?
I think I’m about as gay as one can get. Living my life in the public, talking about my life, putting it out there is what I need to do. Between the gay things and the cancer things and the environmental things, I could do something 24 hours a day. So I do say no to a lot of things, but it’s not because I don’t want to be perceived as too gay. That’s like saying do you want to be perceived as too straight. So no, I don’t not do anything because of it being gay.

AE: I know you said you don’t like to "should" anyone, but I was wondering how you feel about Lady Gaga or Christina Aguilera in their videos kissing women and using bisexuality whether it’s real or for show. Or Katy Perry’s song "I Kissed a Girl."
I think it’s all great! I think we win when we stop making it so black and white, this and that, duality, you know — you’re either gay or straight. You know what? There’s a big beautiful rainbow of gayness to straightness. If somebody wants to kiss a girl, great! I’m all for it. I think we get ourselves into trouble when we try to say OK, you’re either all this or all that. It’s just not true.

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