Melissa Etheridge Headlines Pittsburgh Pride Activities; Does It Matter That She’s a Bad Wife?

Rumors have been circulating, but today the Pittsburgh Pridefest organizers confirmed that Emmy winner and openly lesbian Melissa Etheridge will be performing at “Pride in the Streets” the Saturday event of Pridefest.

I like Melissa’s earlier music and I have a lot of respect for how gracefully she walked through her battle with breast cancer. But I also think Melissa has been a pretty old school white male rocker when it comes to her wives <ahem> So I’m sort of pondering this from a little different point of view than most.

Now I understand that the entertainment industry is filled with people who basically suck at being in responsible, mature relationships. LOL. Its the hallmark of Liza, Judy, Debby, Liz, et al. And you can’t swing a walking stick without hitting an ex-wife/girlfriend of a 60’s rocker a la Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart and well pretty much everyone. Even Sir Paul McCartney has three wives under his belt.

So does it matter that Etheridge continues the “bad boy” routine by having children with and then discarding her female partners? Should it matter to me? Well, actually the reason I care is made pretty artfully by Etheridge’s ex, Tammy Lynn Michaels who is being excorciated for seeking an equitable settlement in the dissolution of their relationship.

AE: OK. A lot of people are criticizing you for not being able to live on the $23,000 a month you’re currently getting. 
TM: [I] gave up the job that was $25,000 a week, not $23,000 a month. I gave up $100,000 a month.

AE: Which show was that? 
TM: Committed, with the late Tom Poston. Another season would have put me at $30,000 a week. In my mind, based on that percentage of raise increases, I’d theoretically have made $30k by fall of 2005, $35k per week by fall of 2006, $40k per week by fall of 2007, all the way up to $65K a week by now.

But [Melissa] wouldn’t take off from her music stuff to allow me to do TV or movies. She implored me to be home. I hate to think, “Oh, I gave up my career,” because you know what? That would subtract from how much it meant to raise the kids.

AE: That math assumes a lot – Committed only ran for one season. Instead of lost wages or whether $23,000 is more than enough to live on, I’m wondering if it’s really about percentages. If Melissa is making almost $178,000 a month, as you say, then $23,000 is only about 13% of that. Straight wives would seek 50% of their husbands’ income, and many would get it, no? 
TM: It’s the law. When we were together, there were a lot of things said and shared between us. And a lot of things were promised. I’m standing here saying: “You wanted to fight for gay rights; you wanted everything to be fair. You wanted to stand up for all of us? Because now I’m an ‘us,’ the gays that wanted to have gay rights and equality and not look like dip s–ts.”

I think Tammy deserves her fair share of Melissa’s income and I certainly think Melissa should part with more than 13% to support her family, either of her families. Sigh.

So while this is sort of cool, I’m a bit skeptical why someone who at one time would have sold out Consol Energy Center no problem would play for a few thousand people on Liberty Avenue?  Does that make me a bad lesbian or a bad Pittsburgher?

Well, no. It makes me someone who thinks equality is equality. Melissa isn’t high on my list because she conducts herself like a privileged jerk and that doesn’t sit well with me. We are struggling for inches on the spectrum of equal rights and she’s shirking her family/legal duties.  Can we shut up and enjoy the music? Well, sure.

The question is whether we should.

Nonetheless, my quibble is with Melissa not with Pride. They’ve had all sorts of colorful characters in the past so this is certainly not a controversial choice. It will draw in attention and perhaps get some people down to Pittsburgh who might not otherwise attend. And that’s a good thing.

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