Chirlane McGray’s (pictured left) 1979 Essence essay “I Am a Lesbian,” broke boundaries, marking the first time a Black gay woman shared her sexuality openly.
Today, McGray is married to N.Y.C. Public Advocate and Mayoral Candidate Bill de Blasio (pictured right), sharing with Essence how she transitioned into a “traditional marriage.” According to McGray, her shift to a heterosexual union was natural, happening “by putting aside the assumptions I had about the form and package my love would come in. By letting myself be as free as I felt when I went natural.”
Asked if it was strange dating a man suddenly, McGray said her relationship with de Blasio was simple attraction:
I came out at 17. I hadn’t really dated any men. I thought, Whoa, what is this? But I also didn’t think, Oh, now I’m attracted to men. I was attracted to Bill. He felt like the perfect person for me. For two people who look so different, we have a lot in common. We are a very conventional, unconventional couple.
On the topic of if she’s still attracted to women, McGray said,”I’m married, I’m monogamous, but I’m not dead.” However, don’t call her bisexual:
I am more than just a label. Why are people so driven to labeling where we fall on the sexual spectrum? Labels put people in boxes, and those boxes are shaped like coffins. Finding the right person can be so hard, that often, when a person finally finds someone she or he is comfortable with, she or he just makes it work. As my friend Vanessa says, ‘It’s not whom you love; it’s that you love.’
McGray first met de Blasio in 1991 while working for the New York Commission On Human Rights. De Blasio was an aide to then-mayor David Dinkins.
“I was wearing West African-inspired clothing and a nose ring, and Bill says he had the love-at-first-sight experience. I did note what a good-looking guy he was and that he was funny and smart and made other people laugh.”
And despite what others may say, McGray is confident in her marriage:
I know my husband loves me fiercely and passionately. I know he supports me and will always stand up for me.
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