Maya Marcel-Keyes made her debut as a gay activist at a rally by supporters for GLBT rights in Annapolis, Maryland on Valentine's Day. Defining herself as a 'liberal queer,' the 19-year-old urged support for young gays and lesbians deserted by their families.
Maya's father is Alan Keyes, the reactionary African American commentator and former Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, for president, and most recently as the itinerant candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois.
She delayed starting college at Brown University to help her father's last campaign in Illinois, despite the fact that she disagrees with him 'on almost everything' political. She periodically wrote of being a lesbian on her blog and news of that circulated on the internet but did not enter the campaign.
During that campaign Alan Keyes called homosexuality 'selfish hedonism' and linked that description to Mary Cheney, daughter of the Vice President.
Maya said her parents 'were not too pleased' to learn that she is a lesbian. 'As long as I was quiet about being gay or my politics, we got along,' she told the Washington Post.
But her nascent political activism recently led them to break all ties with their young daughter. She was fired from a job with dad's political organization, told to leave his apartment where she was living, and not to expect any financial support for college. Thus speaketh the traditional values of the patriarch.
The father issued a statement that read in full: 'My daughter is an adult, and she is responsible for her own actions. What she chooses to do has nothing to do with my work or political activities.'
As Maya wrote on her blog: 'Most parents would be thrilled to have a child who doesn't smoke, have sex, do drugs, hardly drinks…does well in school, gets good grades, gets into the Ivy League…goes regularly to church, spends free time mentoring kids.'
The younger Keyes was fortunate that the Point Foundation came to her aid with a scholarship for college. The San Francisco-based organization supports gay and lesbian youth that have been abandoned by their biological families. Limited resources allow them to meet only a small fraction of the requests for assistance that they receive.
At the Annapolis rally, Maya spoke movingly of a teenage friend who had been thrown out on the street when his parents found out he was gay. He died last week.
'Like me, he grew up in a conservative household…told constantly how there is something wrong, unnatural, immoral because of who they are.' She said, 'He'd been out there two years and had gotten nothing. And the worst part is, he isn't the only one.'
The rally urged Maryland lawmakers to reject a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. 'When you change the constitution, you don't erase our families,' said David Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland.