Janis Ian married the Portuguese filmmaker Tino Sargo in 1978; five years later they divorced. This sort of thing is extremely common in showbiz circles primarily because of the itinerant lifestyles and unusual working patterns of one or both partners, but Ian claimed her former husband had subjected her to both emotional and physical abuse.
After relocating to Nashville, the home of Country music, she decided that men were not for her and in 1989 began a lesbian relationship with Patricia Snyder, coming out publicly four years later and marrying in Toronto in 2008. Ian told us: "I wrote it as an expression of contempt for gay people not being able to marry in the United States, when they can marry or obtain marital status in many other countries."
Suggestion credit: Alexander Baron - London, England
Gay marriage was legalized in New York in 2011, although Janis Ian felt no reason to get married there, or anywhere else, again. "We got married in Canada just like anybody else got married in Canada. Why would we need to get married somewhere else?," she told us.
One couple who did get married in New York were Kristen Ellis-Henderson from the band Antigone Rising, and her partner, Sarah. They were featured on the cover of Time magazine in 2013 with the headline, "Gay Marriage Already Won." Speaking with Kristen about the influence of Janis and others who came out publicly in the '90s, she told us, "The importance of any public person coming out is immeasurable to gay people all over the world. Janis, k.d. and Melissa coming out made me feel like it was OK to be who I was. I'm just grateful to them for being brave enough."
In our 2013 interview with Janis Ian, she explained how this song was received in Nashville, where she lived. "When I first started doing it, I would get walkouts," she said. "There would always be a certain element of the audience that just really tensed up. But then when I hit that last line, which in the UK and Europe is, 'bugger the rest,' and in America is 'F--k all the rest,' and everybody realized that it really was funny and it really was absurd, people really lightened up. Watching the audience morph from being uncomfortable about it or seeing it as divisive, to recognizing the absurdity no matter where they fall politically has been really gratifying."