'We're a Family and We Have Rights.' (Lesbian Singer Melissa Etheridge)(Cover Story)(Interview)

By Miller, Mark | Newsweek, November 4, 1996 | Go to article overview

'We're a Family and We Have Rights.' (Lesbian Singer Melissa Etheridge)(Cover Story)(Interview)


Miller, Mark, Newsweek


RROCK STAR MELISSA ETHERIDGE WAS IN AN AMERICA Online chat forum in August promoting her new album, "Your Little Secret," when she let everyone in on her own secret. A not-so-little secret. She and her long-time lover, Julie Cypher, were going to have a baby, due in January.

When Etheridge disclosed she was a lesbian, in January 1993, she and k.d. lang were the best-known female entertainers to have come out of the closet. The next album Etheridge released, eight months after coming out, was aptly titled "Yes I Am." Her muscular musical style led chiles to call her a distaff Springsteen, and the album sold 5 million copies, produced three top-10 hits and secured her place in rock and roll's major leagues.

Etheridge and Cypher (a video and film director who was married to actor Lou Diamond Phillips when she met Etheridge) want to raise their child in as much privacy as possible. Accordingly, they have declined to talk about how Cypher's baby was conceived. But they also feel strongly that gay families deserve mainstream acceptance. So they sat down recently for an exclusive interview with NSWSWEEK'S Mark Miller to discuss their desire for a family, Cypher's pregnancy and the rumor that their good friend Brad Pitt is the father.

Newsweek: How long have you been together?

Both: Eight years. Etheridge: Well, you know we don't have an anniversary-type thing. Cypher: We've got several. Etheridge: [laughs] It's hard because we don't have traditional [marriage] anniversaries. You try to make your own, so we celebrate the day we met.

Which was ...?

Etheridge: Which was August twenty ... [looking at Cypher with an embarrassed, quizzical look and giggling]... third.

Cypher: Yeah. She got it right.

Had you talked about having children all along?

Cypher: Yes, yes. We both always wanted kids.

Etheridge: I always wanted children in my life. I knew that with my career it would be difficult. I never thought because I was a lesbian it would be difficult...

Cypher: I also have always been more sure that I wanted to bear children where Melissa has been sure she wanted to have children.

Why is that, Melissa?

I don't know. We have not really discussed that at length. I think because I had been on this roller coaster of a career ride, to think about dedicating nine months--and obviously more--of my body to something would really be a serious stopping of my career.

You've said you don't want to talk about how you conceived, but the father is rumowed to be Brad Pitt. Any troth to that? [Both laugh uproariously.]

Etheridge: We called him up and said, "Congratulations, Brad, you're a daddy!" All you can do is just laugh about it. But it is absolutely not Brad.

Did you find it difficult to arrange the process of getting pregnant?

Etheridge: We are very fortunate and very blessed and we are well aware that there are many couples who want to have children who are not well off... And there's so much legal stuff that we have to do as homosexuals to make it safe for our children. …

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