Music is a form of therapy for most of us, and this is especially true for Lindsay White, who has recently released her new album Lights Out. After experiencing multiple traumas, she utilized the art of singing/songwriting to cope with the loss of her mother and to celebrate her decision to openly love her wife. Her musical influences include Bob Dylan, Fiona Apple, and Patty Griffin. We recently had the opportunity to learn more about the inspiration behind Lindsay’s new album.
AfterEllen.Com: What message are you trying to express to your listeners through your music?
Lindsay White: Ultimately, I want use my own stories to let people know they’re not alone. I write songs to process my own experiences, but I share them in hopes I can help listeners articulate emotions they might be feeling in their lives. Loss is an extremely unifying human experience, and I think we can help each other heal by talking about it, or in my case, singing about it.
AE: What specific issues have you faced with being a lesbian in a religious family?
LW: The most specific issues for me were the times I felt a gaping hole where I wish my mother would have been. When I came out and got divorced, she and my ex-husband found comfort in each other because they both felt abandoned. I can’t fault them for bonding and needing support, but it was a very lonely time in my life. The first time I was supporting my ex-bandmate through a manic episode, I was terrified and exhausted, at the hospital every day, wishing I could call my mom for help. When I got married to my wife, I didn’t invite her because I knew she didn’t want to attend. She told me it was the most respected she ever felt, which just ripped me apart. Her absence from important moments of my life was constantly on my mind. I’m sure she would have said the exact same thing though.
AE: If your family happens to be reading this right now, what would you like to say to them?
LW: That’s the worst part about all this. My mom is gone, and the struggle is over, but there’s no clarity or resolve. I can’t say anything to her anymore to try and make it right. We both tried, but time just ran out on us. I like to think if I would have been able to have children before her death, it might have bridged the gap a little bit. There were some issues with her extended family because they share similar religious values and naturally stood by her side when she was reeling from the loss of me and my sister in her life. I never craved their acceptance like I did my mother’s, and I can’t harbor any resentment toward them for doing their best to love and protect her. I love all of my family, and I hope they all know how much I loved my mom despite our challenging relationship. I wish I could go back and try different ways to achieve a more peaceful relationship, but I did my best in the moment, and so did everyone else. Humans always hurt each other without even trying.
AE: Given that your mother passed before you had a chance to reconcile your differences with her, what would you say to her now, if you had the opportunity?
LW: There’s a line in “Lights Out” that says everything’s different with the lights out. In one instant, mom took her last breath and everything changed. All that resentment and fear and anger just vanished and all that was left was a little girl who missed her mom. I just wish I had five minutes to tell her over and over again that I love her. I spent so much of her final years with my guard up, trying to protect myself from getting hurt. Now that I’ve felt the permanence of losing her, I just want to tell her I love her.
AE: What advice do you have for other LGBT people in your situation who may be in a position where they don’t have the ability to make peace with their loved ones about their identity?
LW: It’s different for everyone, but I would say one universal piece of advice is always, always, work on being true to yourself and loving yourself so much that no one’s hurtful words can penetrate that thick-ass bubble of self-love. Life is so short, and you can’t afford to make a stranger out of yourself for the sake of anyone, even your family. But (and here’s where I messed up a lot) as you get acquainted with your identity, do it with as much patience, honesty, and compassion towards others as possible. I had a habit of walking into every conversation with my mom as if I was defending myself in court. In hindsight, I think if I would have lovingly diffused some of that prosecution rather than act on an urge to argue my case, our relationship may have been more pleasant. Don’t get me wrong, I believe very strongly in fighting for LGBTQ rights and acceptance, but sometimes the best case you can make for yourself is simply to exist as a loving and compassionate person.
AE: How have you coped with the lack of acceptance you have received towards your marriage to another woman?
LW: It’s all about our chosen “framily.” Audrie and I have so much love and support around us; a combination of friends and relatives we choose to associate with because they acknowledge our love as something that makes the world a better and happier place. It’s been a struggle with Audrie’s parents. She really grapples with the pain and anger that comes with their refusal to acknowledge her identity and their refusal to even meet me. I guess if they just ignore me, I won’t exist in their reality. It hurts to watch because we’ve been down this road already, and I know how it ends. It ends with me meeting them at someone’s funeral or in an emergency situation, when the air is already thick with fear or pain or some sort of trauma. We just do our best to not focus on that, surround ourselves with positive people, and continually remind ourselves that we are our own family. We wake up every day and we make an active choice to be happy together.
AE: Where did you meet your wife?
LW: I met Audrie on the basketball court! We played in the same leagues and were friends for years before we ever thought about dating. Basketball was a huge part of both our lives, so it was fitting for us to get married on the court where we met!
AE: Which song is your favorite and why?
LW: On this record, my favorite song is “Surrogate.” It’s a dedication to my sister – a proclamation of gratitude for all the ways she has been like a mother to me over the years.
You can pre-order now on iTunes for just $3.99 until Friday. After that it will be available on all the major digital/streaming outlets (iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc.). Starting Friday, you can get a physical copy on my website or at a show! I’m headed out for a West Coast tour this summer; all dates can be found at http://www.lindsaywhitemusic.com/live.html