For one angle in the brouhaha surrounding Rick Warren's slated Inauguration prayer, blogs did most of the heavy lifting. Thanks to Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News & World Report, Christina Hoag of The Associated Press and Alex Koppelman of Salon for mentioning, in varying levels of detail, that Warren and rock singer Melissa Etheridge met each other at an event sponsored by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Gilgoff devoted most of his space to interviewing MPAC executive director Salam Al-Marayati, Hoag wrote a tidy roundup story and Koppleman linked to the most fascinating detail: that Warren will soon go to the home of Etheridge and Tammy Lynn Michaels for dinner, and they will visit his church.
Michaels wrote on her blog, hollywood farm girl:
so honey met rick warren last night. well, she spoke to him on the phone beforehand, giving us insight into the man the media has made our latest "HE HATES YOU!" target. if i sit real still and think about it. it's almost like reverse smear-the-queer.
remember that recess game in second grade (natalie? derek? karyn?), when one kid had the ball, and all the other kids had to chase and kick the shit out of said person, hence "smearing" him? well, at times, it seems that the media presents us with target after target to smear, as if to say to us, "THIS IS THE GUY HOLDING YOU BACK!! GO GIT ’IM!!!" and it does seem that my lovely gay family is so bruised and bettered and ready to fight back (myself included), that we attack and deem someone ANTI-GAY, and ready to SMEAR, simply when they don't want the word "marriage" brought into our gay ceremonies.
Etheridge also wrote about the encounter for The Huffington Post:
Well, I have to tell you my friends, the universe has a sense of humor and indeed works in mysterious ways. As I was winding down the promotion for my Christmas album I had one more stop last night. I'd agreed to play a song I'd written with my friend Salman Ahmed, a Sufi Muslim from Pakistan. The song is called "Ring The Bells," and it's a call for peace and unity in our world. We were going to perform our song for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a group of Muslim Americans that tries to raise awareness in this country, and the world, about the majority of good, loving, Muslims. I was honored, considering some in the Muslim religion consider singing to be against God, while other Muslim countries have harsh penalties, even death for homosexuals. I felt it was a very brave gesture for them to make. I received a call the day before to inform me of the keynote speaker that night . . . Pastor Rick Warren. I was stunned. My fight or flight instinct took over, should I cancel? Then a calm voice inside me said, "Are you really about peace or not?"
On this Christmas Day 2008, I am happy for Etheridge to have the last and playful word:
Happy Holidays my friends and a Happy New Year to you.
Peace on earth, goodwill toward all men and women . . . and everyone in-between.
Photo of Melissa Etheridge in concert, by Craig O'Neal, used under a Wikimedia Commons license.