Home' LOTL : April 2004 Contents Last time we talked, she was newly separated from her ten
year relationship with long time partner Julie Cypher. She
was serious, thoughtful, and as always, polite. This time, it's
hard not to notice the lightness in her spirit or the way her
eyes dance, simply watching Tammy enter the room.
Carson: Everything has changed since we last talked. The
whole world has changed. Everything!
Melissa: Everything! My whole world, THE whole world.
C: When we last talked, you were recovering from a breakup.
C: You had just written a book.
C: You had a TV show.
M: "Beyond Chance"!
C: You were allegedly dating Helen Hunt.
C: Rosie O'Donnell had a hit show on television and hadn't
Melissa laughs harder.
C: Ellen De Generes was complaining she couldn't get a job.
Anne Heche was getting married.
C: And no one had to take off their shoes before they got on
M: And the world goes on. Helen is seeing a fine man named
Matthew so it's all good. And I'm incredibly in love. Rosie is
on a journey to a good place, Rosie will get there. I love Rosie
with all my heart. Ellen is ROCKING! I mean, she's too
talented to be under that shadow for long. And 9/11 certainly
changed everything. We're a different country.
C: So let's start at the beginning. Last time you were single,
now you're married. What happened?
M: Love, true love, good love, real love. When I last talked to
you I was chasing all the old things that always felt right,
because they were wrong. And because it's been wrong for so
long, that's all you know so you keep going, "Well that's what
I want." It's like I was pounding my head against this wall. I
was like, "BAM!" Well that hurts, let me try again, "BOOM!"
No, that still hurts. It was looking for the unavailable, the
unattainable, thinking I can change it. I think it started with my
childhood, I mean, knowing that I adored my father, wanting
to be just like my father ... my father married a very cold,
unavailable woman so that's what I'm going to do. I looked at
my children and I saw myself. I saw what they saw and I didn't
like that. I didn't like that unhappy person who was sort of
changing and pretzelling to try to make everything okay. And
I wanted to be a happy, healthy, strong person for my children.
I want my kids to look at me and think, "My mama's strong,
she's healthy, that's what I want in a relationship." So, going
down that road can be very lonely. And sitting at Felt, the bar
in West Hollywood, with my pal Ellen ...
C: Did you two REALLY hang out?
M: (Laughs) I really used to go there! The night it opened,
Ellen is like, "I'll go if you go." And I'm like, "I'll go if YOU
go." (Chuckles) And we were like Sinatra and Dean, it was a
trip! Ellen and I did lean on each other a lot during that time.
But she wasn't at the bar that night I met Tammy [who] knew
who I was. I didn't know who she was. I was actually there with
Kathy Najimy. (Laughs) I think she knew it was a gay bar but I
don't think she knew it was Women's Night that night. And it
was packed so we're sitting there and this young man came up
to me and started talking to me, Chad. And he was doing
something for GLAAD and we're just chatting and ... I knew
that a beautiful woman was sitting in a booth because I had
seen her when I walked in. I went, "She's beautiful! She must
be straight!" (Laughs) Because that's been my experience. But
she's so striking when you first see her, her eyes and ... I saw
her there in the corner and I thought, "Okay I have to make
myself small" because it was very, very crowded at the time.
And unbeknownst to me, the same man, Chad, was going up to
her and saying, "I'm a big fan, yadda yadda yadda", and then,
"Do you want to meet Melissa Etheridge?" And she's going,
"No, everyone's bugging her." And all her friends are cheering
her on going, "Go meet Melissa Etheridge!" See, he presented
himself to her, to be a friend of mine. And presented himself to
me, to be a friend of hers. So he said to me, "Do you want to
meet Tammy L ynn Michaels, she's on that show Popular?" I'm
like, "Sure, whatever", secretly hoping that Tammy Lynn
Michaels was the one I'd seen in the booth. So she came up and
I'm thinking, "That's the woman I saw from across the room!"
So it was kind of awkward, I said, "How are you doing?" She
says, "How are you doing?" And she said, "I'd love to take you
out to dinner." And no one had ever asked ME out.
C: You are kidding.
M: And she was like, "And I hope you don't have a problem
with age because I'm 26. And I'm thinking, "Wow, that's really
young." (Laughs) I was 39 so that was ... young! But she was
pretty and she was asking ME out so I'm thinking, "Okay I
think she's gay, she's asking me out." And I said sure, I took her
number, and said I'm really busy but I'll call you back in a
couple days. I didn't call her back for a week. And then I called
her and she's like, "I come from Indiana and where I come
from, a couple days is a couple days, not a week." So
immediately I'm thinking, "Oooh! Strong woman!" And we
went out for dinner and dated and dated, and the thing that was
right was: She was single, I was single. She's as gay as I am. She's
gay, she's gay, she's a member of the church, man, just full on!
C: Did you make her show you her Lesbian Card?
M: Our first date was interesting ... both of us were kind of
saying, "Okay this is my shit." And she was like, "Oh yeah? Well
this is MY shit!" And she told me her past relationships, what
it was like growing up in the Midwest, being closeted. She was
going through hell about being closeted on this television show
for two years. It was just ripping her apart. And she said, "Yeah,
I'm ready to come out." And my experience was this incredibly
honest woman who was torn apart by being closeted. And
there we were, talking. And my experience was not that of
"Falling in Love", that whole, "That's what I want, the
darkness and the drawing back and forth." It was two people
together, starting from a solid ground and I've never had that.
And day by day by day, our whole relationship has just been
building on that, on that solid base of communication, of
honesty, of trust. It's unbelievable. And in that, I fell in love.
And it was this different experience of falling in love. It wasn't
coming from a need and a want and a desire to fill up this hole,
it was coming from a need and a want to be healthy and strong
and safe and secure. It's like learning to write with your left
hand and learning to write more beautifully than you ever did
with your right.
C: You decided to make your engagement public, no one has
ever done that.
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