BY Sara Miles
June 08 1999 12:00 AM ET
But you did get involved with the After Stonewall documentary. You know, the narrative moved me as [the producer] told me the stories. Having been there now for the ’80s and the ’90s and what’s happened—it’s so inspiring when you look at how far we’ve come in the last 20 years. And we’ve got a long way to go. But I am out and sitting here in this big old cushy house in L.A., and it’s fine. I’m making a record, and I’m on a TV show, and I have kids, and people want to take pictures of them—and I won’t let ’em. I mean, the fact that I’m out and here is incredible.
I was telling this story to Urvashi [Vaid] last night; she was over with Kate [Clinton]. A couple of weeks ago, for Take Our Daughters to Work Day, the Museum of Tolerance asked several professional women to come to this symposium. I was the gay one, you know? The gay rock star. Fine, whatever. The audience was teenage girls. We got to speak a little bit, and then they asked questions. I thought, If I was in high school and some big old dyke came to talk… In the first place, they would never make it to the high school in Kansas.…
Much less be the honored guest. Much less be the honored guest, exactly, and a role model. And the girls came up and said, “Oh, I want your autograph,” and, “Can I have a hug?” I was like, This is so cool. These are definitely straight girls, by the way—15-, 16-, 17-year-old girls not caring a thing about me being gay. Just, “You’re cool; we like who you are.” There’s so much more hope now.
Do you worry about your kids experiencing homophobia? I haven’t been faced with that yet. That’s gonna make me crazy. Why spend so much time hating people who love? There isn’t some sort of moral cooties that gay people are going to pass down to our kids. Let’s look at our culture and stop scapegoating.
It’s scary when you realize your kids are not going to live sheltered in your house. They’re going to live in the whole culture. [Laughs] No, our children are just going to live in our house.
Right over there? [Pointing to playhouse] In that pink and purple tent? Yup. That’s as far as it goes, right there.
Really, parenting makes you aware of how much you cannot control. Two weeks ago I thought, If I can’t even send my daughter to a public school in Littleton, Colo.… That hit every parent hard. And Littleton was a big slap in the face to the nation because here was the perfect white, straight, suburban family environment, and those boys were hurting so much. I just ran in and hugged my kids and went, “Oh, my God, how do we go on?” But the way we do is to know that all children are our children. Even if their parents are right-wing Christian, gay-hating—whatever—those children need to be loved and understood. The signs are out there.
Did that make you think about your own teenage years? It made me think more about what I’m doing right now in my parenting. All I can do is to love my child, give her and him the strongest sense of self they can have, a sense of their own right and wrong. So that when they go out in the world, when I’m not standing by their side, they can have enough love for themselves and others because they have been loved, and they can face anything. [The caregiver walks past, carrying Bailey, who’s asleep.]
I saw you just touch your heart when you saw her. Oh, no, did I?
Do you still have that in-love feeling that you did when she was a baby? Constantly. There she is, 2, 3, 4 months old, and people are saying, “Just wait.” And I’m like, There’s no possible way I could love her more. But every day I love her more, every day. Yesterday Bailey said, “Mommy, you’re so nice.” I could sit here and bore you with stories about her.
Does it feel different having your life focused this way? Yeah. It feels good. It feels purposeful. There’s something about having all your dreams come true. In 1994, ’95, with the music…
You got it. I got it all. Thank you very much. Then there was a little bit of an empty feeling, like, Now what do I do? And then, boy, when Bailey was born in ’97, it was clear. This is the purpose of my life. And it puts everything else in place.