ETHERIDGE: Sort of that lesbian/David Crosby breakup thing is probably larger than my music now. COLLINS: Whether it's stirring ballads of love and heartbreak or screaming rock love songs about infidelity, Etheridge's music has always reflected her life.It's also what kept her going through the dark times.(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: She's the female rocker whose songs are as provocative as her life.MELISSA ETHERIDGE, SINGER/SONGWRITER: My personal life is probably larger than my music now.ANNOUNCER: And now she has regrouped with new music and a new love. ANNOUNCER: Her upbringing and background would give her comic material for years to come. And when you think female rockers, you think of Melissa Etheridge.MARGARET CHO, COMEDIENNE: In the late '70s, we owned a bookstore in San Francisco, and my mother for some reason was in charge of the gay pornography section. NAJIMY: And I would say, like she slipped into our hearts and taken our stories and written the songs. SHARON COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Melissa Etheridge knows all too well.ANNOUNCER: She broke barriers with her sitcom, but it almost caused her to breakdown. In just the last few years, the 41- year-old rocker's life has become an open book; from coming out of the closet to a 12-year relationship and painful breakup to the dramatic revelation of her children's famous father.
KATHY NAJIMY, ACTRESS: It rocked our world, but my main concern for my friends is that they are happy. JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN/ACTOR: She's kind of like a true comedic voice. Candid and unflinching, Etheridge now speaks and sings about heartbreak, sexuality, and the dark secret she has kept since childhood. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ETHERIDGE: Life happens, and I write about it wherever I am. MIKE STRANGE, FRIEND: When you think of rockers, you think of maybe Springsteen.
ANNOUNCER: She grew up harboring secrets in small town, Kansas. Melissa Etheridge has gained fame and a reputation for her music.
ETHERIDGE: Realizing I was gay was a long sort of waking up. Her leathery voice and her hard driving, often very personal love songs.
ETHERIDGE: I learned very early on that I could write truths, I could write about sadness or anger, where I couldn't actually speak it.
CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS Profiles of Melissa Etheridge, Margaret Cho Aired May 24, 2003 - ET THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.