3 min

Love and marriage lost and found

Melissa Etheridge comes to terms with not being perfect

Credit: Capital Xtra files

When Melissa Etheridge rolls into town later this month to play two live shows at the Le Théâtre du Casino du Lac-Leamy, she will have just celebrated her one-year wedding anniversary with actress Tammy Lynn Michaels.

The couple married during a small, private ceremony in Malibu last September, and Etheridge says the commitment has only served to strengthen and affirm their relationship.

“When I saw that this could be – and I want it to be – forever, it was very easy to enter into that world of commitment and marriage and wedding vows,” she says during a recent phone interview from the California home that she now shares with Michaels and Etheridge’s two children from her previous 12-year relationship with director Julie Cypher.

Etheridge, 42, adds that the stability and happiness she and Michaels, 29, have shared over the past year has only solidified her support for extending the legal right of marriage to same-sex couples.

“I know that in 20 years we will look back on it as those silly times when we went through all of that [struggle],” she says of the fight for same-sex marriage rights. “I have to believe that.”

The new energy, happiness and enthusiasm the Kansas-born rocker has found in her relationship with Michaels weaves its way both lyrically and musically throughout her latest album, Lucky, which was released on Island Records earlier this year.

“I knew when I started writing that the way that I felt was very up and very excited, and I was really looking forward to playing with a band and I had an idea that this [album] would really rock,” she says.

Etheridge adds that the album reflects the way she has matured both as an artist and an individual, after suffering through her painful and well-publicized breakup with Cypher in 2000.

“They are so much a part of me,” she says of her recent personal and artistic turnarounds, chronicled in the upbeat tone of Lucky. “The album is just a reflection of that.”

After her tour winds down next month, the lesbian rocker will regroup to prepare for her feature film debut, portraying a female-to-male transsexual, in a new film by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, the creator of the successful and long-running television series Designing Women.

The film, which will also feature Sissy Spacek and Demi Moore, is scheduled to start production in January.

Etheridge says that when she was approached by the filmmakers to take part in the project, it didn’t take her long to decide the role would be just the right vehicle to start her acting career.

“I don’t want to be just a film star, I want to be involved in a film that I feel,” she explains. “And they brought this project to me and I said, ‘Yeah, I love that one, that one is right down the line with me.’ And I’m real proud to be a part of it.”

Etheridge says the fight for equality for transsexuals may be the “next frontier” within the larger battle of queer rights.

“Our life is just like layers, and our social change is layers, and the gay movement was sort of this push to come into the light – the light of acceptance and social change – and we see that moving [forward]. But the things that are really deep, deep in the dark, they are just starting to come up into the light now,” she says of the fight against transphobia.

After the success of last year’s DVD, Live… and Alone – which digitally captured the legendary live performer during her recent solo tour – Island will release Lucky Live on Sep 28, the first concert DVD to feature the Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter performing with a full band.

In addition, bonus DVD/CD packages will also be available of the concert, which will mark the first time the Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter has ever released a live record.

“It’s not quite the live album that everybody wants, because it doesn’t have a lot of the classic songs on it, but we made a choice to just do the new material,” Etheridge explains. “It just felt right.”

For Etheridge, the new album also represents the next step in her evolution as one of the best-known lesbians in the world.

Since she publicly came out in 1993, Etheridge has often found herself thrust into the role of queer community spokesperson. It is a role, she says, like so much of the rest of her life, that she has finally comes to terms with.

“If they want me to represent, it is going to be just me. And I am going to make mistakes and I am going to have my own opinion, and it might be different than theirs,” Etheridge says. “But I have come to the place where I have realized that I just can be myself, I don’t have to be something perfect for everybody… and as long as I hold on to that I’ll be okay.”