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The year was 1993 and the Democrats partied hard at Bill Clinton’s inauguration. For the first time, the LGBTQ community was invited. LGBTQ rights groups threw the Triangle Ball to coincide with the official inaugural celebrations.

It probably would have been a footnote in history, particularly because of how Clinton’s presidency turned out with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, except that Melissa Etheridge was feeling brave and announced from the balcony of the ballroom, “I’m very proud to have been a lesbian all my life.” The ballroom exploded in cheers and k.d. lang literally jumped for joy.

Etheridge built a rock and roll career in the late 1980s that exploded the same year she came out with her album Yes I Am. She’s released 15 albums, been nominated for 15 Grammy Awards and won two, and won an Oscar for her original song “I Need to Wake Up.”

She’s been a longtime gay rights activist since coming out and was particularly involved the fight against Prop 8 in California. She also been actively involved in the fight for a cure for breast cancer since 2004.


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