1993 was a monumental year. At the time, I was working at a local electronics store in their music and movie department. Musically, Melissa Etheridge released her iconic, queer-anthem album, Yes I Am, and personally I was coming to terms with my own queerness with the help from a few angels of my own.
Melissa was one, and the other was a woman in my department, T. We’d joke about album covers while filing them away, share store gossip over the CD changer, and make faces behind customer’s backs when they were too demanding. T was the first person who came out to me as lesbian, of course I made it all about me, asking if that meant she didn’t want me. A few months later, I confessed to her my attraction to guys. We also bonded over Yes I Am. When it was dead in the store, we’d turn the CD up and break into song, it wasn’t an episode Glee as much as The Rocky Horror Picture Show…community theater style. With Melissa’s help we navigated our way through T’s coming out and getting kicked out of her parents’ home and welcomed into her grandmothers’ while I stayed in the closet longer out of fear of the same.
Thirty years later, when given the opportunity to meet Melissa Etheridge and get a signed copy of her new book, “Talking To My Angels,” I didn’t hesitate getting a ticket for the event and booking a day off from work. It’s not often you get to meet an icon!
The only things I knew about Melissa before reading her book was her music, she was one of the first openly gay musicians of my era and she used David Crosby’s sperm for the insemination of one her children…after reading the book, I discovered it was two kids. I also learned about her struggles. She molested as a child, went through two divorces, survived breast cancer and lost a son to an opioid addiction. Although some people might relate to her hardships and find solace in the book, much of the book is about Melissa’s path to living in love and connecting with her “Spirit.” It’s a journey as unique as she is with yearly astrological charts, a few ayahuasca sessions with shamans, and one life altering night tripping on a “heroic dose of cannabis.” All the while sharing her hurt and hope with the world through her songwriting and now this book.
I don’t know what ever happened to T, we went our separate ways after the store closed. I looked through the crowd at the signing, wishing she might be there, but no such luck. I hope things got better for her because I know they did for me, and all the while Melissa is soaring high with her angels and nobody deserves it more, in my gay opinion.