‘I was destined to be an alcoholic’

Amy Ray, left, and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls are getting brutally honest about addiction, internalized homophobia and how their music still resonates with the queer community. (Photo: Leah Puttkammer/Getty Images)

Amy Ray and Emily Sailers, who make up the lesbian rock duo the Indigo Girls, are opening up about addiction, recovery and how their music continues to be a beacon for the LGBTQ community.

The musicians recently sat down with Glennon Doyle for his podcast We Can Do Hard Thingswhen Saliers, 59, opened up about her years of alcohol addiction and how Ray, 58, had to quit the band because of his drinking.

“I was destined to be an alcoholic,” said Saliers, admitting that alcoholism runs in her family. “I didn’t know it. When we played bars and things and did shots from the stage – this is when there were children – and drinking was a social part of what we did, and then there was I have a very social life. . I thought I was an extrovert, but I was actually an alcoholic.”

Saliers goes on to explain that due to the excessive consumption of alcohol, her behavior eventually turned erratic. Soon, he started to become a liability to the band.

“Amy can attest to how horrible it was when I was drinking,” she shared. “All my excuses, my irresponsibility, not showing up [to work]. But I was scared. I think all alcoholics are afraid to admit they are alcoholics.”

Add Saliers: “Everybody knew I was just up and dying, and Amy was going to quit the band. Everything was falling apart for me and I tried to hide it – and I didn’t you can.”

After Ray made numerous attempts to intervene, Saliers’ family and friends eventually staged an intervention that led to her spending three months in rehab. Looking back, she says the experience saved her life.

“It’s the hardest f***** thing I’ve ever done,” she says as she sobered up. “It’s so hard sometimes, you just want to get out, you know, quickly, and you can’t anymore. You have to be uncomfortable and the other thing I’m learning now is that I lost my own. development – intellectual development, my evolution as a person. I only achieved that much in the time I was drinking so hard.”

“So now I feel a lot catching up, and I feel a lot of unworthiness because I’m behind,” she explained. “But to be sober, to wake up feeling good, to know that you are not self-destructive, to know that you can be, because, now I am accountable to Amy, responsible to do. us. To all the people and to my family. I would never have my wife [Tristin Chipman]; She would have left me, she was going to. Or my child. The most beautiful things in life came from sobriety.”

Ray and Saliers’ latest album Long Look in April, he couldn’t help but acknowledge their contribution to promoting LGBTQ rights and visibility in music as well.

Despite their iconic status in the community, both admit they still deal with internalized homophobia.

DECATUR, GA - FEBRUARY 15: (Image digitally enhanced) Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers return to where they started for a wild performance at Eddie's Attic on February 15, 2018 in Decatur, Georgia .  (Photo by R. Diamond/Getty Images)

Ray and Saliers performing in person at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, Georgia in 2018. (Photo: R. Diamond/Getty Images)

“I came up with a feeling, at some point, that the bubble was bursting, I was feeling self-hatred for being so masculine,” Ray explained about grappling with her sexuality when she was younger.

“It’s internalized homophobia,” she said. “It means you’re scared of what it really is and sometimes you don’t want to face it. I think when you’re young, you don’t know what it really means.”

As for lesbians of her generation, who she says felt pressured by societal norms to stay hidden, Ray says that losing them takes emotional baggage to work – which, she says, is in stark contrast to today’s generation who celebrate identities often rather than suppressing them.

“For us, it’s kinda like, we couldn’t celebrate [being queer] so long that we found conditions for that,” she said, “we were taught that you don’t celebrate it.”

“We didn’t know what the word gay meant, really, when we were kids,” she continued. “Now when you come out, you realize there’s sexuality and there’s gender, and that’s different … The thing that helped me the most when I got older was, suddenly, having all this language to talk about where I was at.”

Saliers also said that the queer community was critical not only to her sobriety but also to her coming out journey.

“People who are coming out [today] I don’t have to deal with the self-hatred and self-homophobia that I still deal with,” says Saliers. “Some of the young people I know who come out, they’re over to be happy and satisfied, and they did.” you have to fight this internal battle.”

“The influence, the power of these systemic structures that affect us: the church, social norms, binary thinking, fear is fluid in so many ways, you take a step back and look at the power of those forces on us. community,” she says. “Together we can navigate that, tackle that, and assert our validity as people, our dignity. That’s why we need communities.”

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