On This Gay Day: Melissa Etheridge came out as a lesbian

Melissa Etheridge comes out

In 1993, on January 20th, Melissa Etheridge let the world know that she was a lesbian by coming out at the Triangle Ball, an LGBTI focussed celebration of US President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.

Standing alongside singer K.D. Lang, Etheridge said Lang, who had come out on the cover of The Advocate the previous year, had been an inspiration.

“You’re the greatest thing I’ve seen this year, and I’m proud to say right here, I’m proud to have been a lesbian all my life.” Etheridge declared.

The singer broke onto the music scene in 1988 with her songs Somebody Bring Me Some Water, and Similar Features both of which focussed on jealousy over a failed relationship. Etheridge had been discovered in a lesbian bar, so there was never any secret with her record company. She’d followed that up with two more records 1989’s Brave and Crazy and 1992’s Never Enough.

A few months after her coming out announcement Etheridge released her fourth album Yes I Am. It featured the romantic rock ballad Come To My Window. 

In 2012 Etheridge appeared on the Wendy Williams Show and shared that when she first arrived in Los Angeles she made friends with a group of women who were out to their families, but not to their audiences. Etheridge listed Rosie O’Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres as friends she discussed coming out with.

Etheridge has chatted to OUTinPerth several times over the years. She spoke to Zoe Carter in 2012 and Graeme Watson in 2016.

Also on this day in history

Terrence McNally’s comical farce The Ritz had its first Broadway performance on this day in 1975. The play, set in a male bathhouse, was originally call The Tubs. It had first been performed at the Yale Repertory Theatre the previous year.

The show ran for 398 performances and 10 previews. The play follows a businessman one the run from the mob who hides out in a gay bathhouse, where he finds a mix of characters including the bathhouse customers, and Googie Gomez, a second rate singer who he wrongly assumes is a drag queen.

Among the cast were Jack Weston Jerry Stiller, F. Murray Abraham and Rita Moreno – who won the Best Actress Tony award for her portrayal of Googie Gomez. All the main cast members reprised their roles for a film version that was released in 1976.

The theatrical version was directed by Robert Drivas, who was Author McNally’s partner at the time. McNally would got on to write many successful plays including Love! Valour! Compassion!, Masterclass, Frankie and Johnny at the Clair De Lune, and the book for the musical version of Kiss of the Spider Woman.

McNally passed away in March 2020 after contracting COVID-19.

OIP Staff. This post was first published on 20 January 2020, it was updated in 2021.