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Maya Keyes

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Maya Jeane Marcel-Keyes, more commonly known as Maya Keyes (born May 23, 1985), is an American political activist and daughter of Alan Keyes, 2008 Republican presidential candidate. Despite her staunch conservative upbringing, Marcel-Keyes has been involved with the anarchist and gay rights movements. She also identifies herself as adamantly pro-life.

Family and personal life Edit

Marcel-Keyes was born in New Jersey and raised in suburban Maryland by Keyes and wife Jocelyn Marcel-Keyes who is a native of India. Marcel-Keyes is the second of three children. She was raised in the Roman Catholic Church.

Influences Edit

Maya Marcel-Keyes often sought friends that were outside the family's conservative atmosphere, befriending those that began to introduce her to new ideas. During her teenage years, Marcel-Keyes began to evaluate her sexual orientation. She eventually came out as lesbian[1]. The death of a close friend of hers, a young man named Shymmer, presaged Marcel-Keyes' entry into the public eye. Shymmer had been kicked out of his house at age sixteen after revealing his sexual orientation to his parents, thereby forcing him to survive on the streets. After over three years living without a home, and facing many of the problems LGBT youth face while homeless -- rape, beatings, prostitution -- Shymmer died of starvation brought about by a severe case of anorexia nervosa after a Washington, D.C. hospital refused to provide him an IV drip.[2]

Marcel-Keyes spoke about Shymmer at an Equality Maryland rally on Valentine's Day, 2005.[3][4]

Politics Edit

2000 Election Edit

During the 2000 U.S Presidential Election Season, Marcel-Keyes was instrumental in convincing her father, despite objections from his security detail, to throw himself into a "mosh pit" organized by activist and filmmaker Michael Moore during an Iowa caucus rally. Fellow Republican candidate Gary Bauer charged that the event was a cheap political stunt. In response, Keyes said that the mosh pit exemplified "the kind of trust in people that is the heart and soul of the Keyes campaign."

2004 Election Edit

Marcel-Keyes gained public notoriety after her father was nominated by the Illinois Republican Party as its candidate for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by retiring Senator Peter Fitzgerald. The previous nominee, businessman and educator Jack Ryan, removed himself from the race after damaging information from his divorce records were made public. Marcel-Keyes and her father moved to Calumet City and later to Chicago for the race.

Marcel-Keyes' sexual orientation was not widely known at the time of her father's entry into the Senate election, but questions arose when Dr. Keyes answered a reporter's question concerning the homosexuality of Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Keyes stated that all homosexuals were guilty of "selfish hedonism," Mary Cheney included.

The following September, a weblog [1] written by Gerald Farinas, an acquaintance of Marcel-Keyes, was discovered containing a link to what was believed to be, based on clues found on both sites, Marcel-Keyes' online journal. In it, the author described herself as "queer". Freelance bloggers concluded it was indeed Marcel-Keyes' site and pressured her to come out of the closet. Mainstream media outlets differed on how and whether to report the information discovered by the weblog community. Few moved on the issue and refrained from reporting the events surrounding Marcel-Keyes (until after she spoke to the media herself following the election), but all faced a barrage of requests for information. Marcel-Keyes had been out to her parents as queer since they found a copy of the Washington Blade in her room and confronted her with it at the end of high school[5].

After the 2004 campaign, Marcel-Keyes became a consultant for Keyes' Illinois office. However, on January 20, 2005, she participated in a march protesting the second inauguration of President George W. Bush. Keyes relieved his daughter from her duties and requested that she move out of an apartment funded by Keyes' political organizations in Chicago. Marcel-Keyes wrote in her online journal that her parents had given her two weeks to move out of the apartment, and had effectively left her "jobless and ... homeless."[6] She also discussed this series of events in an interview with The Advocate.[7]

Activism and beliefs Edit

From an early age, Marcel-Keyes involved herself in her father's political work, in both pro-school choice circles and the pro-life movement. She believes in the philosophy of "peace for all who live," opposing all forms of violence -- including the death penalty, abortion, all forms of war, and the killing of animals for consumption (she is a vegan). She states she is an anarchist[2], and reportedly believes things such as access to health care, education, housing, food and jobs should be considered human rights.

To these ends, Maya is involved with a number of activist organizations. She has volunteered with "Food Not Bombs", runs as a street medic at protests and is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, which speaks on behalf of LGBT families and youth all over the country. She also spent a year in the south of India teaching English and computer skills to tribal people with a group known as ACCORD, which aims to empower tribal people of India who have historically been oppressed and/or ignored by higher castes.

Honors and awards Edit


  1. Point Foundation gives Maya a scholarship
  2. Maya Marcel-Keyes speaks out, speech reproduced in, February 14th 2005
  3. Equality Maryland
  4. Article in New York Blade
  5. When Sexuality Undercuts A Family's Ties, Marc Fisher, Washington Post, 12 February 2005
  6. Marcel-Keyes's weblog on
  7. Maya Marcel-Keyes interview, Tom Musbach, The Advocate, February 2005

External links Edit

Wikipedialogo This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Maya Keyes. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with LGBT Info, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.

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