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Christine Quinn Comes Out as Bulimic, Alcoholic

The NYC councilwoman and mayoral candidate hopes her story will inspire others to get help.

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Quinn doesn't want to hide anymore.
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By McCarton Ackerman

05/14/13

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NYC Council speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn has publicly revealed her struggles with bulimia and alcoholism. Coping with her deaf mother dying of breast cancer when she was 16 led to her secretly binging and purging for 10 years, Quinn tells the New York Times. She says hiding her sexuality in her youth also contributed to her bulimia and substance use. She first came out as a lesbian to former NY senator Thomas K. Duane, who was openly gay, while she was working as his campaign manager after college. She would later reveal her eating disorder to Duane, himself a recovering alcoholic, and he urged her to seek treatment. “It was the first significant time in my life that I had asked for help, and I think up until that point in my life I associated asking for help with defeat,” she says. She entered a Florida rehabilitation center at the age of 26 in 1992. After treatment, Quinn also "cut back" on her drinking—she ultimately gave up booze three years ago, and now identifies as an alcoholic. Quinn credits her recovery—as well as her wife, Kim Catullo—with helping her put her life together. “Asking for help, going to the rehab, dealing with bulimia, cutting back on drinking, getting drinking out of my life altogether—all of that helped me put the pieces back together,” she says. “And then when I met Kim, she was the final piece.”

Quinn says she doesn't believe that her disclosure will hurt her race for mayor: “It feels like an oddly nonpolitical thing.” Her memoir, With Patience and Fortitude, which will "touch upon" her bulimia and alcoholism, comes out next month. The councilwoman emphasizes that she doesn't wish to be seen as a "victim," and hopes others can find hope in her example. “I want to be affirmatively proud of what I have made my way through,” she says. “And to do that, in the same way I had to tell my father and my family and my friends that I was gay, I need to not hide this anymore.”

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