“I have a family. In my apartment, my wife and I, we’re a family,” she said, her voice cracking slightly. “Our 10 nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews, we’re a family. My father and I, Kim’s dad. we’re a family. When I took care of my mother when she was dying, that’s a family. Kim and I lost our mothers. People make personal decision, for medical reasons, all kinds of reasons, that go into why people do and don’t have children. And no one should comment about that and make it a political issue.”Here's the background, in case you haven't been keeping up. Quinn and de Blasio are running for Mayor of NYC. Quinn is a childless lesbian. De Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, said something to Maureen Dowd that Dowd transcribed as a statement that Quinn is "not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave."
Quinn jumped on that, de Blasio said his wife was misquoted, and Dowd's column was corrected, and the NYT revealed McCray's full quote, which came in response to Dowd's question why Quinn "was not rallying women." McCray said:
"Well, I’m a woman, and she’s not speaking to the issues that I care about, and I think a lot of women feel the same way. I don’t see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, issues in the workplace — she’s not speaking to any of those issues. What can I say? And she’s not accessible, she’s not the kind of person that I feel that I can go up and talk to and have a conversation with about those things, and I suspect that other women feel the same thing that I’m feeling."So McCray's point was that Quinn isn't speaking the right way, not that her being lesbian makes her not the kind of person who can relate to women with children. Maybe McCray was cleverly creating an occasion for people to think that, but she didn't say it.
And now, wait. I'm just now seeing Dowd's next paragraph, and it shatters the mental image I'd had of McCray:
Last spring, McCray did an interview with Essence magazine about her feelings about being a black lesbian who fell in love with a white heterosexual, back in 1991, when she worked for the New York Commission on Human Rights and wore African clothing and a nose ring and he was an aide to then-Mayor David Dinkins. With her husband, she was also interviewed by the press in December and was asked if she was no longer a lesbian, and she answered ambiguously: “I am married. I have two children. Sexuality is a fluid thing, and it’s personal. I don’t even understand the question, quite frankly.”Whoa! Why isn't this the part of Dowd's column that's getting more attention?
Dowd goes on to talk about how Quinn has been "unable to get traction, even with women, despite talking more freely about the historical nature of her bid to become the first woman and lesbian to be mayor." Good. People shouldn't vote just to rack up another first.
NYC had a gay mayor in Ed Koch — right? He won in 1977, when his sexuality was known well enough that there were posters reading "Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo." He said in a 1989 interview: "I happen to believe that there's nothing wrong with homosexuality. It's whatever God made you. It happens that I'm a heterosexual."
So it's great if people find Quinn boring despite her firstiness. Dowd — either craftily or bumbling — found a way to make her interesting, and Quinn is displaying some political skill, exploiting what is exploitable.