Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mary Cheney, another enigma wrapped in a butch pantsuit

I'm still thinking about Mary Cheney, another enigma wrapped in a butch pantsuit, who is also wrapped in a politically conservative mystery.

In so many ways Mary Cheney is a typical lesbian. She's a fan of Ellen Degeneres (according to her memoir). She has a thick neck. She has worked as what we call a "professional lesbian"—meaning she was doing gay-related work in a professional capacity. (At Coors, she was a corporate relations manager for the gay community.) Her partner, Heather Poe, was a park ranger and UPS manager. Can it get gayer than that? No, it cannot. She is also raising children with her partner, as many lesbians do. Mary, 40, gave birth to their second child about five months ago, which is about two years after the birth of their first child, about whom she said: "This is a baby... It is not a political statement. It is not a prop to be used in a debate by people on either side of an issue. It is my child." Couldn't agree more.

Yet, in other ways, she is a troubling member of the LGBT community. To witness the creepy sheen she puts on her defense of being a part of the Bush-Cheney political machine, view her 2007 interview on David Letterman. These days, Mary is reportedly starting a consulting firm with her very, very rich father, who, by the way, has evidently survived his fifth heart attack at age 69. The Washington Post suggested the consulting firm should be called Cheney, Cheney & Cheney because it will involve the entire family, "a consistently gruff clan who speak in dour unison."

Mary Cheney has been a puzzle ever since she was outed in the press in 1991, when her father was Secretary of Defense under the first President Bush. How can this big, handsome, proud, out lesbian be a conservative Republican when that party has done nothing but put up barriers to equality for gay people? In her memoir, It's My Turn (which I own in hard cover), she says she came out to her parents early—junior year in high school in the mid-1980s—and always received their support. "You're my daughter and I love you and I just want you to be happy," was the first thing Dick Cheney said when she told her parents she was gay, she wrote. Father and daughter continued to have a close relationship, including when Mary served as his personal aide—a.k.a. his "body guy"—during the 2000 campaign for the Bush-Cheney ticket. And it was Mary Cheney, big ole lesbian, who held the family Bible in January 2005 when Vice President Cheney took the oath of office. She is probably the first out gay or lesbian person to participate in the nation's oath of office ceremony on inauguration day. And yet she is so deeply resented by the gay and lesbian community because she did not speak out against the Bush administration's anti-gay policies when she had a priceless opportunity to do so.


Anonymous said...

At least she is a good role model as far as not jumping from relationship to relationship like some other prominent lesbians that the community worships (Ellen, Rosie, etc.). She loves her family and she is basically what?

Sapphist Gazetteer said...

Good point. I confess I have a soft spot for, or at least an understanding of, conservatives (the non-religious-fundamentalist kind) because I grew up in New Hampshire when it was still a red state.