Thursday, March 30, 2023

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Melissa Etheridge On How Authenticity Can “Fortify” and “Strengthen” You

Melissa Etheridge via Etheridge TV

It’s been almost 30 years since Melissa Etheridge came out to the entire world. While she hasn’t made it to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame yet – much to our confusion – the singer-songwriter, guitarist and activist has persevered through homophobia, raising children as a lesbian, and even breast cancer.

“The first thing I ever heard was a slur, of course, and I was like what’s that?” Melissa spoke to LinkedIn News about her lesbianism and its impact on her music career. “They said ‘it’s a girl who likes girls’ and I said ‘why is that bad?’”

It took more than just guts to come out to a world while the AIDS crisis was still in full swing, which brought with it a wad of harsh stigma against homosexuality, often incited by media fear-mongering. 

Melissa Etheridge, a lesbian in the media, discusses how she’s asked whether she thinks coming out affected her career. She explains that, going from selling one million records to seven million records, it “fortified” and “strengthened” it. It’s clear that her music has “fortified” and “strengthened” lesbians who relate to her music, too.

Melissa has some advice for lesbians living in a polarized society: standing in our “wholeness,” our “joy,” and our “happiness,” can “put others at ease,” too. She believes that today’s world is a more “acclimated” and “embracing” society that is capable of understanding that “gay people just are.” 

Let’s hope she’s right. Let’s hope that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ threat that gay rights are next, now that Roe v. Wade is eliminated, won’t come to fruition. The world doesn’t feel very accepting of females or homosexuality right now, so being a female homosexual is a pretty daunting existence. 

Melissa remains optimistic and strong in the face of prospective regression: “As you look at yourself, know that your strength lies within you loving and accepting yourself. If your power comes from right in yourself, your hopes and dreams, you got this.”

The lesbian icon doesn’t believe people are born with the courage to live authentically, but choose it, which is a particularly resonating sentiment that I have thought about, myself. 

“I don’t think you find courage,” Melissa said in a phone interview with Cascadia Daily. “I think you just make up your mind that heading headfirst into the fear is the only way to get through it. You can’t go around it. You can’t sit still anymore. I would rather be out and lose everything than not be myself in this job, in this industry, anymore.” 

In fact, Melissa believes living in the stress that fear creates is much scarier than being transparent, after her experience with breast cancer in 2004.

 “Having experienced it, and experienced and understood a health crisis, I started to understand the things I needed to change in my life for my body to work at its optimal ability,” Etheridge said. “I speak about strength, and love of oneself, and how dangerous stress is to ourselves.”

Melissa speaks about her pandemic project, Etheridge TV, where she had to learn technologies she was inexperienced with, including live streaming, lights, cameras and complex programs on computers. Once again, through persistence, it’s paid off for Melissa Etheridge.

“What I learned about 10 or 11 years ago was it’s never too late to start learning something,” she said. “I started learning how to play more lead guitar to get to be a better guitar player. And I practiced and practiced, and I got better. And I realized, wow, all you need is a love of something and then the ability to do it over and over and over and practice it and practice it to get good at it.

“I had my mind opened a few years ago to that, so when it came to a whole new technology in general, I said, ‘I gotta jump on this. This is my only way of staying connected to my fans.’ I went into it with a love and a desire to practice it every day, and to get better and better, and I still am. It was quite a reward.”

Read the full article here

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