In 1979 Chirlane Mccray wrote an article in Essence proclaiming herself a black feminist lesbian. In 2013 she’s the wife of New York City mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio and the mother of two children–what a difference a few decades make.
However, don’t expect Chirlane’s sexuality to negatively affect her husband’s chances at election. For her part, she actually thinks the brouhaha over that article has helped her husband’s campaign. McCray describes her relationship with de Blasio as being an example of a “conventional, unconventional” couple; they are, after all, married and living in Brooklyn with two kids. De Blasio, a New York City Public Advocate, is competing against, among other candidates, Anthony Weiner, a man whose public career took a nosedive when he was found to have sent photos of his genitalia to a woman other than his very pregnant wife, and Christine Quinn, the first openly gay Speaker of the New York City Council. In a race with this many ‘unconventional’ candidates, McCray/de Blasio look pretty normal.
Chirlane has been described as the ‘most visible spouse’ in the upcoming November New York City mayoral race. She tweets, has appeared in campaign ads for her husband, and even has solid political chops of her own–she was a speechwriter for former Mayor David Dinkins and ex-state Controller Carl McCall. McCray has even found time to speak out in support of that Cheerios ad which featured the interracial couple and their child. But it has been the new-found attention that the couple has attracted due to the uncovering of that 1979 article that has perhaps attracted the most attention.
Whether Mr. de Blasio will actually win the election is anybody’s guess at this point, but at least his wife Chirlane is sure to get her husband’s name and his platform on the tip of a few more people’s tongues between now and election day. That–keeping your spouse’s name and face in the public eye–is just what a good politician’s spouse would do.
Read more about Chirlane in ESSENCE.
Jamila Akil is a Senior Editor at Beyond Black and White. Follow her on Twitter @jamilaakil