Melissa Etheridge & Tammy Lynn Michaels Split; It Only Hurts When I Breathe

Oh, no. “Melissa and Tammy Etheridge are saddened to announce that they are now separated,” according to People. Melissa and Tammy were married in 2003, Melissa was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and Tammy gave birth to their twins – son Miller and daughter Johnnie Rose – in 2006. Previously Melissa had been in a high-profile relationship with Julie Cypher.

Tammy writes regularly in her blog, Hollywood Farm Girl, and has apparently been making veiled references to the break up since January. Our intrepid reader, Eve, actually saved these blog posts and sent them to us:

From January 20th:
“when i think of how you know me”
that’s what i thought she wailed

isn’t that what the speakers rang
but the winds blow
and she whispered low
oh honey sometimes things change

February 2nd:
a few things i figured on out
people treat you the way you treat yourself
so if you are the type to put the oxygen mask on someone else, before yourself
they won’t put the mask on you, they’ll take care of themselves first, taking their cue
from you and your prior actions

if you give and give and give and take care of someone
until plenty spill-eth over-th
then why should your partner give any more?
you’ve given enough for both?”

They appeared together as recently as last summer in an episode of Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, where they invited the cameras into their home to make cookies and prep Kathy for her big gay rights speech.

They had been together nearly 9 years. First Rosie & Kelli, now this! Ellen & Portia, the pressure is on!

Melissa Etheridge‘s new album, Fearless Love, will be released on April 27 so it’s likely that they chose this time to make the announcement before she starts the promotional tour.

Tammy Lynn Michaels appeared as Shane’s stalker, Lacy, in the first two episodes of The L Word but is most known for her role in Popular, Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s first show, which featured Tammy doing an eerily similar Sue Sylvester “Vogue” video remake:

Also, Tammy Lynn is slated to star in the greatest Executive Lesbian Realness movie not yet purchased by a studio, produced, or filmed, Nicest Thing (starring Julie Goldman & Brandy Howard).

If you’ve gotten this far, you might be asking yourself — [why] do I care? Does it matter? Is it any of our business? Well — maybe. Maybe not.

Musicians, like poets, are special — we know more about Melissa Etheridge’s feelings than we do our own girlfriends’ sometimes. Singer-songwriters sort of open a window, SO TO SPEAK, and let us right on in, for better or for worse. Lesbian folk-rock, in particular, is incredibly personal.

And for many women, Melissa Etheridge’s feelings have always felt particularly near & dear. The Eth is almost pure emotion; gravely & raw and tethered to her guitar like a treehouse, earthy and unabashedly female and gawd just so fucking hungry, you know?

In 1996, Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote of Melissa Etheridge’s ‘Like the Way I Do’: “… to yell this loud — and, no less, to do it inside the macho confines of a rock ‘n’ roll echo chamber — about a love that dare not speak its name is by definition to set your spirit free. Perhaps the joyfulness that I feel seething, overbrimming, from so much lesbian music, even when its at its most heartbreaking, has to do with the simple fact that just to have the courage to find a voice to sing within the context of societally censored desires means that anything you say, no matter how depressing the thought, will never ever come across completely dispirited.”

So that’s one reason why you might care — you might feel like you know her. But also; there’s this thing people do with celebrity breakups that often mystifies us. These questions & answers were raised quite eloquently last month by Irin of Jezebel in “Why Does The Winslet-Mendes Split Make Me So Sad?. Indeed — why? I still am not sure who Sam Mendes is, or really anything about that relationship including that it ever existed. But maybe Eth-Tammy is to you what Winslet-Mendes is to Irin.

Human beings look to other human beings for hints on how their own lives might turn out; that’s why we read books and watch TV and keep tabs with old friends on facebook and cry during romantic comedies.

“We can never know what to want,” Milan Kundera writes in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. “because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come… we live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold.” It’s that terror, perhaps, that endears us to observe and compare our lives to the lives of others (rather than to our untouchable past lives) in search of a cue, or a line, or at long last; a curtain call.

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Jess is a pop culture junkie living in New York City. She enjoys endless debates about The L Word, Howard Stern, new techy gadgets, DVR, exploring the labyrinth of the Lesbian Internet, memoirs, working out, sushi, making lists, artsy things, anything Lady Gaga touches, traveling, puppies, and nyc in the fall. Find her on Twitter @jessxnyc or via email.

Jess has written 240 articles for us.


  1. I have to admit, I’ve been a big Tammy Lynn Michaels fan since Popular, but only sort of started listening to Melissa Etheridge a few years ago when a ladyfriend brought over her entire catalog for me to put on my iTunes… before then I knew the same few radio-played songs that everyone else did. TBH, those are probably still the only songs I know. But this makes me sad none-the-less because it does seem like now we only have Ellen and Portia ‘representing’ lesbian couples in the media.

  2. This makes me really sad guys. :( Maybe they’ll get back together!? Lesbians do this… /denial

  3. Who wrote this? Jess or Riese? I care more about the Kundera reference than anything else in it. MORE KUNDERA REFERENCES PLEASE!!!

  4. No, seriously, who wrote this? Keep re-reading it. It’s fucking awesome writing. Couldn’t care less about these celebrities. But the writing…. I’m pretty much referring to the part from: “Musicians, like poets, are special…” and so on.

  5. Annnd I love you Autostraddle. For poignantly dissecting celebrity fixation by simultaneously placing hysterical Activist Kathy auxiliary to a Milan Kundera quote.

  6. PLEASE SAY IT ISN’T SO!! And you 2 were so GOOD together!
    plEASE TRY HARDER. I’ll pray for you both….The kids are at stake here! Family IS important! Please reconsider.

    Shirley W.
    Allendale, NJ

  7. Pingback: Tammy Lynn Michaels | Hot Web Trends

  8. Riese, this is really beautiful writing. That Kundera quote spoke to a lot of things going on my life right now.

  9. Like a lot of lesbians, I am really sad that Mel and Tam have broken up. It isn’t because I really care about their PERSONAL lives (I have enough to do keeping up with my own). I just feel there are so few lesbian couples in the media that it gives people fuel for the old argument, “See, these aren’t real relationships and they never last”. Unfortunately these ARE REAL relationships and not everything is bunnies and rainbows- either for gay or straight couples…. sigh.

  10. I <3 that Unbearable Lightness of Being reference. Beautiful words surrounded by other beautiful words, all inspired by pop culture. I think that’s what we’re all about, right?

    • YES. that and “our number one feeling, besides our feelings, is your feeling.”

      take these two statements, paired with the unparalleled genius of julie goldman, and you’ve got us, in hot mess of a nutshell.

      yeah? let’s make t-shirts.

  11. Pingback: About Melissa Etheridge | Hot Web Trends

  12. oh, wow…i’m so saddened this morning having seen this on our subway news flashes and now reading it here…as lesbians, we do tend to measure our own lives with those in the public eye so when a lesbian couple break up, it shakes our own world a bit…this news now coming while my own wedding day to my partner in just over a month. my heart feels for both of them right now and their children.

  13. “Singer-songwriters sort of open a window, SO TO SPEAK” — my girlfriend and I just chortled about that over IM, so thank you for helping us laugh through the tears.

    And yes: some excellent writing in this one. Well done!

  14. Possibly the two most boring bitches on planet earth.

    Etheridge = crappy wannabe rock star/horndog

    Tammy/The Mrs = gold digger/housefrau wannbe. I’m sure she is really straight and has Anne Heche on speed dial!

  15. The very last paragraph — with the Milan Kundera words — this person who wrote this owns my heart. *sigh*

  16. OK Krissy from the UK here.

    I think unfortunately that this quite mimics heterosexual life.

    Melissa decides to find herself a toygirl who is obviously much more beautiful than herself and exploits her beauty for her own ends. While poor Tammy is busy bringing up the children, with no time to develop her own needs, Melissa takes advantage of her position and betrays the woman who she has taken sacred vows with to get into the sack with someone (who should know better as a supposed friend) and she does this because with her money and fame she has the power to.

    How positively macho!!!!!

    Let’s face it (and Im a lesbian too) no one would look at Melissa twice (or even once) if she wasn’t rich or famous and I’m guessing through her touring in her early years she honed her craft at pulling in the ladies who fell for her charms. OK so that was a bit sharp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    My heart goes out to Tammy and her children. Im sure she will move on, develop herself and show good ole Melissa by her actions that she is not needed. All this attention melissa gets in the press, only adds to her huge and ugly ego.

    By the way I’m also not a musical fan of hers as she sounds like she has drunk a bottle of whisky to achieve that growel of a voice but horses for courses – no accounting for taste.

    My mother also always said that ‘as you age your personality shows in your face’ – and she looks mean!!!! OMG I can’t believe im now quoting my mother!!!!

    M’s reluctance to pay the full galimoney is based on the fact that if she doesnt want something she doesnt have any responsibilities. Now I dont personally know Tammy and I do hope she doesnt feel that I am being condescending or invasive but all I can wish her is good luck for the future Tammy and shame on you Melissa for embarassing Lesbians of the world with your shoddy behaviour towards a woman who is the mother of your children!!!

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