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Former New York City Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, who previously identified as a lesbian, have decided to separate.
The two are splitting romantically to date other people, but they are not planning on divorcing or even moving out of their Brooklyn home, the pair announced in a lengthy interview with The New York Times published Wednesday.
De Blasio, 62, and McCray, 68, said their decision came after a discussion at home about two months ago that began with de Blasio querying why they weren’t “lovey-dovey anymore?”
“You can feel when things are off,” de Blasio told the Times, “and you don’t want to live that way.”
“You can’t fake it,” McCray said.
“I just want to have fun,” she said. “It’s not that we haven’t had fun.”
De Blasio was mayor of New York for eight years, from 2014 to 2021. He was succeeded by the current mayor, Eric Adams, also a Democrat.
The two pointed to several specific events when they felt their marriage took a hit. One is the COVID pandemic in 2020, while de Blasio was still mayor. Another was de Blasio’s run for president in 2020, which McCray called “a distraction,” but she supported him anyway.
“This is not the kind of thing where you can break ranks,” McCray said. “That’s part of the difficulty of being part of a package.”
De Blasio is convinced their marriage would not have encountered its current difficulties if he had never been elected mayor, according to the Times.
“Everything was this overwhelming schedule, this sort of series of tasks,” de Blasio said. “And that kind of took away a little bit of our soul.”
During their “trial separation,” the couple will continue to live “for the time being” in the Park Slope townhouse where they raised their two children, now adults.
De Blasio met McCray when both worked for David Dinkins, New York’s first black mayor from 1990 to 1993. At the time, McCray identified as a lesbian and was not immediately open to her future husband’s attempts to pursue her, but she eventually fell in love with him, she said.
“He was very easy to fall in love with,” she told the Times.
The two married in 1994 in Brooklyn.
However, de Blasio said he continued to ponder his wife’s sexual orientation.
“For the guy who took the chance on a woman who was an out lesbian and wrote an article called ‘I Am a Lesbian,’” de Blasio told the Times, “there was a part of me that would at times say, ‘Hmmm, is this like a time bomb ticking? Is this something that you’re going to regret later on?’ So I always lived with that stuff.”
Since his election to mayor in 2013, de Blasio and McCray have weathered their share of criticism and scandals together.
While he was mayor, de Blasio was criticized for making McCray extremely influential within City Hall, including boosting her potential run as Brooklyn borough president.
In 2019, McCray’s city-run $850 million mental health initiative, called ThriveNYC, was criticized for operating without much scrutiny or metrics to measure its success.
Just last month, the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board ordered the former mayor to pay nearly $500,000 in reimbursements and fines for having his security detail accompany him on trips during his failed presidential campaign.