New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn made it official over the weekend. She’s running to succeed Mike Bloomberg as the Big Cheese of the Big Apple. Quinn initially made the announcement in a five-minute video on her campaign Web site that was quintessential Quinn. Red hair. New Yawk accent and bravado. But for an announcement that was heavy on biography there was nothing — zilch — about her being a lesbian or about her wife.
It’s not like it’s a big secret.When she was elected to the City Council in 1999, she succeeded her boss, now-State Sen. Tom Duane (D). That seat in Manhattan’s Chelsea was drawn to ensure the election of an openly gay council member. Her election came after her successful five-year tenure as the head of the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP), an organization focused on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Quinn’s marriage last May to Kim Catullo was the political social event of the year. And, yet, with the exception of a brief mention of her work at AVP, Quinn is mum on a big chunk of her life.
Here’s how surreal all this is. Back in 1999, Quinn sat with a fresh-faced Greg Sargent to quash the rumors that she was in fact straight. “I’m a lesbian. Yup. Hundred percent. Hundred percent,” she told Sargent, who was writing for the New York Observer then. But in her announcement video where she felt free to include a photo of her parents on their wedding day, Quinn neglected to include her own.
Did she and her campaign decide that to go all-in on a mayoral run she had to go back in the closet? Not exactly. Catullo, Quinn’s wife, was right there behind her when she made her public declaration in Manhattan’s Inwood section. “It would be hard to imagine that New Yorkers don’t know that I’m a lesbian,” Quinn told the New York Times. I suppose. But when you’re introducing yourself to voters who might not know anything about you as a potential mayor — the first female and the first openly gay one at that — it would behoove you to tell them your entire story. Otherwise, why do the video at all?
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