Tuesday, February 15, 2005

When Sexuality Undercuts A Family's Ties: "Maya Keyes loves her father and mother. She put off college and moved from the family home in Darnestown to Chicago to be with her dad on a grand adventure. Even though she disagrees with him on 'almost everything' political, she worked hard for his quixotic and losing campaign for the U.S. Senate."

"During his failed campaign last fall against Barack Obama (D) for the Illinois Senate seat, Alan Keyes lashed out at Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Cheney. Keyes told a radio interviewer that Mary Cheney was a 'selfish hedonist.' Then, without having been asked anything about his own family, he volunteered that 'if my daughter were a lesbian, I'd look at her and say, 'That is a relationship that is based on selfish hedonism.' I would also tell my daughter that it's a sin and she needs to pray to the Lord God to help her deal with that sin.'

"Maya heard the comments and recoiled. 'It was kind of strange that he said it like a hypothetical,' she says. 'It was really kind of unpleasant.'"

"Maya, too, has had her testy moments, which she has shared on the Internet. 'Sometimes I cannot believe I am related to this man,' she wrote in her online diary last fall. 'Haha though I'm sure he feels the same way about me.'"

"Maya is more conflicted than her online rants might indicate. She shares some of her dad's political and religious foundations. She is religious and deeply opposes abortion, viewing it as the taking of life."

"Maya still sounds more sad than angry about her situation. 'I wouldn't want to do anything to hurt my father,' she says. Like other gay relatives of prominent conservatives, she has struggled with how public to be about her sexuality. Like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's sister Candace, who campaigned for John Kerry on behalf of a gay rights group, Maya says she has come to believe that 'while we might be trading on our prominence, it's a good thing to do something good with our situation, and anyway, we didn't choose to be queer.'"

"Maya Keyes is looking for answers to all those conservatives who e-mail her about how she's going to burn in hell and to all those liberals who e-mail her about how she's a traitor because she won't disavow her father. And then there are the people who think she's a whiny brat, 'that I'm immature for thinking that I want my parents to talk to me.'

"'It all seems kind of ridiculous,' she says, 'because I love him. He's my father.'"

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