Álainn or Appallin’: Rachel Maddow
Rachel Maddow may not think she’ll ever be an anchor-babe, but from the reaction to her since she appeared on US television in 2008, it seems she’s just the eye (and brain) candy we’ve all be waiting for.
A Stanford and Oxford educated former Rhodes Scholar, Rachel spent her early years as an activist for HIV positive prisoners, even doing her doctoral dissertation comparing British and American prison policies.
She became interested in activism surrounding HIV/AIDS and the San Francisco gay community even before she figured out that she was a lesbian at age 17. She later went on to work with ACTUP on issues involving HIV positive prisoners.
I had a very acute sense that something was happening [HIV/AIDS] to ‘my’ people even before I knew I was gay. I was very moved by what was going on. Growing up in the Bay Area as a gay kid was devastating. It defined the world in a very serious way for me, in a life-or-death sort of way. I had a lot of older friends and many of them died. There was a sense of: look, your life is happening now. This may be all you get.
from The Guardian
Rachel has lived in California, Massachussetts, New York and London. Of her time in London, she says it was, “a bar life… crazy, like Shane on The L Word.” Much like Shane, Rachel also eschewed the U-Haul lifestyle and claims her 11-year relationship with artist Susan Mikula, is the first monogamous relationship she has ever had, or wanted. The two met when Susan shook the lesbian phone tree looking for a “yard boy” to help with the gardening. Rachel is what fell out.
I drove out there, she answered the door, and it was love at first sight. I had never had a monogamous relationship. I had never wanted to. But this was different. We both had to extricate ourselves from other things. Fortunately it was mutual.
from The Guardian
Starting in local morning talk radio, moving to national liberal radio station Air America and then to her own prime-time news show on the run up to the 2008 presidential election, Rachel has been a woman on a mission to raise the level of debate and discussion in American politics, and it appears to be working. Rumours abound that Dr. Maddow is the heir apparent to host the prestigious weekly roundtable, Meet the Press, if David Gregory leaves.
While she is legendary for her interview take-downs of fake-grassroots (astroturf) organisers, who create popular followings for the causes of big industry and an ex-gay therapist who added fuel to the fire that was Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill, she is also appreciated for her segments where she explains complicated policy in ways we can all understand. In this video, she explains the connection between Richard Cohen’s ex-gay ideas and Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill, and then destroys him like whoa. (Yes, it’s almost 20 minutes long, but it is worth it.)
It’s easy to see why she took it personally. Although she says they are now supportive, her parents are conservative Catholics and didn’t take it well when they found out she was gay. Unfortunately someone sent them a clipping from the student newspaper reporting how then freshman Rachel had posted a coming out letter in her dorm. She had been planning to go home that weekend and tell them herself.
Those of us whose religious parents reacted badly to our coming out absolutely dread the spectre of someone telling them we can change. It’s not worth having that argument again, is it?
Let it not be said she only uses her powers against conservatives. In her Air America days, Rachel produced some podcasts. Here, she summarily trounces the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) for being “cowed and lame” and um, stupid.
Rachel Maddow has also never shied away from using the word butch to describe herself. Of her relationship with Susan, she’s said, “Well, you’ve seen Susan and me, very different women! A butch-femme thing going on, which I love!” and on her appearance, “It’s not like I’m trying to be girly and failing.”
She says she can’t cook, so when they’re at home, Susan cooks and Rachel prepares pre-prohibition era cocktails.
This wan one is delicious.