Melissa and Tammy Break Up
Photo: Jeff Vespa
My wife and I used to be major Melissa Etheridge fans; she still is. We’ve seen her in concert three times (the only live music we saw for 15 years), we have all the CDs, and we’ve followed her life story in the tabloids with interest (but didn’t read her book because it might mess with our interpretation of her lyrics). Not only is she incredibly talented, a lesbian rock star, and making middle-age look good, she’s a fellow Gayby Boomer with four, count ‘em, four kids!
We felt second-hand pride in Melissa’s capture of Julie Cypher’s heart way back when, and even more in their public production of two beautiful bouncing babies by insemination—we had two ourselves by then—even though I wouldn’t have risked their particular donor. They posed as an earth mama family in Rolling Stone and made lesbian motherhood cool when we were still having to explain to pediatricians, “Yes, we can both be his mother” and straight moms on the playground would react with, “Oh?” and then Oh!” when they got it, or backed away slowly.
It rocked our world when they broke up after 12 years. “Damn it, I thought they were going to make it,” is how I felt. And as with any breakup in the community—somehow, these strangers were in the fold—it sent shockwaves. After all, divorce is a social disease like pregnancy, it can be spread. And couples tumble down like dominos.
By Tammy Lynn’s arrival as Melissa’s arm candy, the respectable magazines were ready to do features on them, not just the tabloids. They got married when one of the brides was bursting with twins, and the public applauded and didn’t expect to be told in detail how two women make a baby. They made same-sex marriage glamorous, and became a typical American family that includes exes and step-children and shared custody.
So it was a surprise when my wife tossed off a “Did you see Melissa and Tammy Lynn split up?” on the way to her closet to gear up for a long ride the other day. But it wasn’t earth-shattering, there were no shockwaves, and it was just another tumble. By now so many lesbian celebrities have publicly gotten engaged, married, divorced and lived in sin that who cares? And in our actual community? The same.
We still have a surprisingly large number of friends and relatives who’ve been espoused for up to 25 years, gay and straight, but we’ve also now attended more weddings that have ended than not. It’s sad, it’s a total bummer, and it’s life.
I’d still be a major Melissa fan if the older children hadn’t pronounced a ban on all “M” singers—no Melissa, no Madonna, no Mary Chapin Carpenter—during van expeditions. Instead we get their music, including Depeche Mode, German Industrial bands, soundtracks to vampire movies and remakes of songs I danced to a couple of decades ago, so that’s okay. But I forget how much I love her. I guess Tammy Lynn did, too, or maybe Melissa. That’s their business. But they’re still Gayby Boomers no matter the status of their marriage and that rocks.
Blogger Bio: Beren deMotier is a Carol Brady in Levis/tattooed lesbian mama in a mini-van, obsessed with safety, doing the right thing and the amount of dog hair on her wood floors. She is a regular contributor to both Curve and Black Lamb, and has written for Hip Mama, And Baby, Pride Parenting, ehow.com, and for her blog, “That Lesbian Mom Next Door.” Her multi-award-winning book, The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage, recounts her giddy leap through a legal window, straight onto the barbeque pit of public debate when she and her partner married in Oregon in 2004, their three children along for the raucous ride. (berendemotier.com)