Bill de Blasio, New York City Public Advocate and the surprise front-runner for the Democratic nomination for New York City mayor, has to be feeling pretty good right about now. If the polls are correct, this backyard-vegetable-growing, hybrid driving uber-dad from Park Slope will become the Democratic nominee in a state where 68 percent of registered voters are Democrats, and most are ready for a change in climate from bombastic, conservative Bloomberg. De Blasio also happens to be married to writer and activist Chirlane McCray who, if her husband is elected, could become the most vehemently badass first lady New York has seen in a long time. Here’s why:
1. She hates labels just as much as you do. And no, I’m not talking about your shameful habit of snipping the Urban Outfitters tag off of your pre-distressed tee and pretending it’s vintage. Chirlane came out as a lesbian when she was 17, a bold move for anyone in 1971, but especially for a woman who belonged to only the second black family ever to live in Longfellow, Massachusetts. Her neighbors weren’t especially welcoming. While at Wellesley College, McCray was a member of the Combahee River Collective, a trailblazing organization which defined and vocalized the struggle of black feminists in the 1970’s. She also penned an article for Essence magazine in 1979 entitled “I Am a Lesbian,” which she reflected on in a more recent edition of Essence: “I thought it important to dispel the myth that there are no gay black people, that black people just didn’t do that sort of thing,” she said. “That article was my way of telling black women across the country, ‘you are not alone.’” Fast forward to today, and the inevitable question on the frothing lips of many members of the mainstream media was, inevitably, so how come you’re married to a dude now? To which Chirlane has aptly replied, why not? “There are some people who identify as one thing or another,” she told the New Yorker, “but for the rest of us there’s a lot of gray area.”
2. She’s far from a political rookie. (Seriously girl, maybe you should run instead! Please?) McCray is no ordinary candidate’s wife: she’s been deep within the trenches and back. She worked as a speechwriter for the only black mayor of New York to date, David Dinkins. She wrote speeches for Comptrollers Carl McCall and Bill Thompson as well, and also served as a presidential appointee during the Clinton Administration. Incidentally, she’s also got a PhD in the politics of l-o-v-e: “The way Bill describes it, I walked in with my African dress and my nose ring, and he heard choirs singing,” McCray told the New Yorker. “I did not have that experience.” ZING. Marry me, Chirlane.
3. She’s awesomely sassy on Twitter. Besides using the good ol’ Tweet machine for predictable political plugs and cute mom things, McCray clearly isn’t afraid dish it out at those who deserve it. After Mayor Bloomberg took to New York Magazine to call de Blasio’s campaign, which has featured McCray and her children heavily, racist, McCray was having none of it:
4. Her gorgeous poetry will kick your ass. Seriously, it’s amazing.
5. She could very well be the catalyst for de Blasio’s stance on the issues. De Blasio, by his own daughter’s succinct description, is in many ways a “boring white guy” with a Dickens quote at the center of his campaign. Nonetheless, he’s idealistic and forthright, an LGBTQ supporter with big plans to raise taxes on the rich and improve public schools. As a politician, he’s been undeniably shaped by his personal life. “My family life has affected my understanding of everything I do in public life,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “This is kind of the core of how I define myself.” If he becomes the Mayor of New York, de Blasio will have at his side not only a First Lady, but a vocal and visible advocate for the rights which many Americans are still denied. Chirlane 2013!