Melissa Etheridge's 'Life in Love and Music'

ByABC News

June 22, 2001 -- Melissa Etheridge, rock star and gay pride icon, says her partner of 12 years was unfaithful during their relationship and confessed to being straight before the couple parted ways.

The Grammy-award-winning recording artist writes about her stormy relationship and the breakup that surprised everyone in a new book The Truth Is… : My Life in Love and Music.

Rock Star Romance

Etheridge hit it big in 1988 with her first album, Melissa Etheridge. She also fell in love.

While shooting the music video for the hit single "Bring Me Some Water," she met Julie Cypher, an assistant director on the set.

"There was an immediate connection and attraction that was very, very strong and I was as surprised as anybody," Cypher told 20/20 in a 1996 interview.

"She was strong and powerful, and she was fun and very attractive," Etheridge says of Cypher. "And very married," she adds.

Cypher was married to actor Lou Diamond Phillips, but the two were soon divorced and she and Etheridge quietly became a couple.

Heartbreaking Infidelity

Though Etheridge was ready to settle down, Cypher, four years younger and new to the lesbian lifestyle wanted to explore her sexuality with other women. Cypher's decision was profoundly disappointing to Etheridge. "It sucked, it was terrible," she says.

The pain and feeling of betrayal was evident in her music. The hit single, "I'm The Only One," released in 1994 explores her deep love for Cypher and her partner's failure to remain monogamous.

Starting a Family

In spite of their relationship troubles, the couple decided to have children in 1996. "It's time. I want to have children with you, I'm committed," Etheridge remembers hearing from Cypher. It was a reassuring statement to Etheridge. "You take it in, you hold it and you believe it," she says.

To the couple's surprise, their old friend rock singer David Crosby volunteered to be the biological father for their children — it was a detail they would keep secret for the next two years. Crosby first fathered a baby girl named Bailey Jean, born in February of 1997, then a boy named Becket born two years later.

Etheridge says Crosby sees the kids every few months but is not playing a significant role in rearing them. "He is not their parent, he's their father," she says.

Down to One

Children did not serve to strengthen Etheridge and Cypher's partnership. The two continued to drift and their sex life waned. "You wake up one morning and you're on complete opposite sides of the bed and it's all about the children … and your partner is just someone who is there to pick up the kids when you can't," Etheridge explains.

In a therapy session, Cypher gave Etheridge a devastating piece of news. "I'm not gay," Etheridge remembers her partner saying.

On Etheridge's 39th birthday, she shocked her fans and the gay community by ending her relationship with Cypher. She put her music on hold and focused her energy toward caring for her children. The two women moved to separate homes with adjoining back yards so the kids could easily go back and forth.

Etheridge says her best protection for her kids is being loving, truthful and unashamed.

She recently returned to the recording studio to put the final touches on her seventh album, Skin.

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