NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If voters cast their ballots for Democrat Bill de Blasio in Tuesday’s mayoral election, he would bring the first interracial first family to Gracie Mansion.
In a sit-down interview with CBS 2 political reporter Marcia Kramer, de Blasio’s wife — and top adviser — Chirlane McCray, discussed her marriage as well as her childhood.
De Blasio and McCray were married nearly 20 years ago by a gay, interfaith, interracial couple — a mirror of all the complexities that went into their decision to wed.
She was black; he was white. McCray believed she was a lesbian when they met. But she said their age difference — de Blasio is six years younger — was actually one of the biggest hurdles for her to overcome.
“I remember that moment so distinctly,” McCray said. “We were sitting. It was one of our dates, and I didn’t know how old he was. Here I am thinking about (sexual) orientation and race and all the things that were different for me. And he told me how old he was, and I have to tell you … that really just kind of pushed me over the edge. I was so taken aback to find out that he was younger than I was.”
The Wellesley College graduate met the Democratic mayoral front-runner, appropriately enough, at City Hall, when both worked for then-Mayor David Dinkins.
“He likes to say that it was the closest thing to love at first sight that he could imagine, and I felt nothing,” McCray said with a laugh.
Despite the obstacles, love bloomed. She said she knew he was the one after she took him home to Massachusetts to meet her parents.
“He fit right in,” she said. “They called him Brother Bill and loved him.”
De Blasio and McCray married in May 1994, and their daughter, Chiara, was born six months later.
McCray and her sisters grew up in Western Massachusetts. She vividly recalls the racial prejudice she faced as a child.
“I remember other children coming up to me and rubbing my skin and saying, ‘Does it come off?’ (or) ‘You’re dirty,” she said.
Her escape was to swim competitively at the local YMCA.
Pragmatically, McCray said learning to cope with the attacks helped her later in life.
“I think It was great preparation for New York,” she said.
The de Blasios are a close-knit family. Both Chiara, 18, and son Dante, 16, have campaigned for their dad.
De Blasio says his wife, who has worked as a speech writer for Dinkins, former state Comptroller Carl McCall and former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, is a full partner in his life and career.
“We like to be together,” McCray said. “We like to think together. You know, it’s New York, so there’s a lot of information that you have to process on a daily basis. And it’s nice to know that there’s someone else who has your values.”
McCray has yet to disclose what role she’ll play in a de Blasio administration, whether it will be publicly or privately.
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