Monday, 19 March 2018

The radical lesbian activist who married the New York mayor

Bill de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray with their two children
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio designated 17 March 2018 as Gerry Adams Day, an action which drew substantial criticism from victims of IRA terrorism.

Blasio is married to Chirlane McCray and they have two children.  They were married in 1994 and that leads on to an interesting story.

Chirlane McCray was born in 1954 and grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts.  In 1972 she enrolled at Wellesley College and while she was studying there she became a member of the Combahee River Collective, a radical black feminist collective.

After graduating she moved to New York and in 1979 she published an essay in Essence, a monthly magazine for African american women.  Her article was entitled 'I am a Lesbian' and Essence later described it as 'groundbreaking', asserting that it was 'perhaps the first time a Black gay woman had spoken so openly and honestly about her sexuality in a Black magazine'.  The purpose of the essay was to 'dispel the myth that there are no black gay people'.

She entered the political arena in 1991 and met Bill de Blasio, whom she married in 1994.

In 2012 when she was asked about her 1979 essay she said, 'In the 1970s I identified as a lesbian and wrote about it.  In 1991 I met the love of my life and married him.'

The following year the New York Post published an article entitled: 'Bill de Blasio's wife recalls him first learning that she was a lesbian'.

Back in 1979 and through until 1991 Chirlane McCray 'identified as a lesbian' but she is now in a  happy heterosexual married relationship and the mother of two children.

There must be many others like her and this is interesting in the context of current debates about the nature of homosexuality.  Chirlane was a militant and radical lesbian who is now heterosexual.

However I believe that social media is probably not the best place for such debates.