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Mel comes to Mike's broadcast window

by Jeremy Hooper

We were very tough on both Melissa Etheridge and her wife Tammy Lynn Michaels for the defense they offered up right smack dab in the eye of the Rick Warren hurricane. Our feeling was that neither of them fully understood how real and far-reaching Warren's anti-gay sentiments have gone, a thought that solidified after Melissa confessed that she didn't know the first thing about Rick Warren before the inaugural Mel-Etheridgebrouhaha began. So even though their intentions were clearly pure and positively-minded, we were a little annoyed that they would take to prominent forums (HuffPo, NPR, etc.) and couch the situation within the confines of their own personal experience with the man, since (a) they didn't really seem to know all the issued, and (b) their celebrity existences don't always provide the sort of distance that allows for a down-to-earth assessment. And knowing that Melissa, by virtue of being the lesbian Elvis, would be seen by some in the media as speaking for the gay community, the whole thing came out a little, well -- frustrating.

However, despite the frustrations, we never lost site of the fact that Melissa is nothing if not well-intentioned when it comes to the LGBT community and its advocacy. Something that was reconfirmed for us in an honest, open interview that the singer shared yesterday with Michelangelo Signorile. Head over to Mike's bloggy home for a partial transcript and full audio from their lil' chat:

"We should hold people accountable. Now, does that mean they are exiled from what we are trying to accomplish here, which is a united America? Or do we say, we see you now? You can’t be part of this party and hide that. I really want people to know that I’m not defending him"
Melissa Etheridge on Activism, Celebrity and Rick Warren [Signorile]

Now as for that k.d. lang...

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Your thoughts

Here's the part where Matt calls bullshit.

Bullshit #1: "I am sorry if they felt like in any way I undermined them." This is a teenager fake apology. I'm sorry IF... is always an attempt to put the blame back on the person you're supposedly apologizing to.

Bullshit #2: "...what we are trying to accomplish here, which is a united America?" Is that our goal? To have a united America where powerful people with bigoted views are given deference and respected for their bigoted views? I don't think so. At least it's not MY goal.

Bullshit #3: "I really want people to know that I’m not defending him." The first link on this post shows the bullshit in this one.

Bullshit #4: "Okay, you know, again, it’s such a fine line." No. It. Is. Not. When we're talking about someone who openly and easily dismisses our rights as human beings, it is not a fine line between right and wrong.

Finally, I think it's cute that Melissa gets Rick's emails to his gay friends. Downright adorable. One wonders if she's asked him the questions she asked in her open letter of November 7th. You know, the ones about what she's supposed to call her wife. Maybe they've discussed it over donuts and water.

Posted by: Matt Algren | Jan 29, 2009 10:29:12 AM

Matt: Yea, there's still plenty to criticize, and I think Mike did a good job holding her accountable. Honestly, I don't think she's ever going to be able to see this situation completely clearly or to fully realize why her defense came across so poorly to so many. She came into the situation in such an odd way, meeting the man (a self-professed fan) without knowing the facts.

But I would differ with you in terms of the sincerity of her apology. I think she does understand that she upset people and, especially after talking to Mike, "gets it" all a little more. I think she's genuine in saying that she feels badly if her personal experience gave him too much of a pass, even if we might STILL think that she's giving him too much on one.

I would suggest that being a rock star who is committed to advocacy rather than an activist who does the daily grunt work, she puts more apples into the ability to forge human connections with folks like Warren than those of us who cover these issues might. I don't at all think that makes her WRONG -- I just think it puts her optimism in danger of becoming myopic or outright blind.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 29, 2009 10:47:45 AM

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