Plenty of same-sex couples have children, and these days, it's the kind of thing that generally doesn't raise many eyebrows. At the turn of the century, however, things were slightly different -- and when Melissa Etheridge revealed that she and her partner had turned to David Crosby to sire their two children, it made headlines.

Of course, that's partly because Etheridge planned it that way, sharing the news in a Jan. 10, 2000, cover story for Rolling Stone that included a family photo shoot with her partner Julie Cypher, Crosby and his wife Jan, and the kids. But that had at least as much to do with controlling the message as it did with achieving maximum PR impact, and the message was emphatically that, as Cypher later told CBS, "We are just like any other couple with two kids."

Their domestic life may have been similar to anyone else's, but the details leading up to Cypher's pregnancy were fairly unusual. It all started when she and Etheridge vacationed in Hawaii at the same time as the Crosbys, leading to a conversation about having kids -- and an unexpected offer from Jan, who later told Larry King that she volunteered David as a father on the spur of the moment.

"It just fell out of my lips," she recalled. "You know, it could have something to do with I believe that human beings are, you know, called on to have beings come through them, and they were talking about this, and I had my, you know, 5-month-old son on my chest, and I saw a longing in them and a love, and I knew that it was deep and that it was pure and true."

Crosby was equally enthusiastic about the idea. As he later told CBS, "Was there any hesitation in my mind about trying to help them? No. None. The truth is, I probably shouldn't say this, but I don't even think it should be a big deal. I think it's such a natural thing that a straight couple would do for a gay couple, if they were friends."

In fact, he ended up doing it twice -- first for the couple's daughter Bailey, born in 1996, and again two years later, for their son Beckett. As he recalled, "By this time we were closer even than we were the first time, and I think they felt the same thing I did, that they had knocked it out of the park the first time. Why not?"

It did lead to some unusual moments for Cypher and Etheridge. In the same interview with CBS, Cypher shared the conversation in which Bailey asked her if she had a father. "I said, 'Well, yes, you do.' And then I waited, and the next question was, 'Well, who is he?' And I said, 'Well, you know, our friend David, with the funny mustache?' She said, 'Oh,'" Cypher recalled. "Then I waited a little while longer, and she said, 'Well, where does he live?' And I said, 'He lives just north of here.' And then we went on to whatever we were doing. It was that simple."

The couples eventually shared their story with Rolling Stone because, as Etheridge said, "We just got so tired of this secret. It wears you out. And keeping this big secret goes against how [Julie and I] are choosing to live our lives -- very openly."

While Etheridge and Cypher would eventually go their separate ways, they settled in adjoining houses so the children would have them both close at hand, and Crosby has remained a constant, albeit non-paternal role, in their lives. "He is not their parent, he's their father," Etheridge told ABC, sentiments echoed by Crosby when he spoke with the Chicago Tribune: "If, you know, in due time, at a distance, they're proud of who their genetic dad is, that's great."

 

 

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