The daughter of conservative Republican Alan Keyes (search) referred to herself Monday as a "liberal queer" and urged support for gay and lesbian young people who have been deserted by their families.
Maya Marcel-Keyes (search), 19, addressed a rally sponsored by the gay-rights group Equality Maryland (search), saying she was motivated to speak out because of her rocky relationship with her parents and the recent death of a friend who had fallen ill after being thrown out of the house by his family.
Marcel-Keyes told several hundred supporters that her sexuality had created a rift in her relationship with her parents.
"Things just came to a head. Liberal queer plus conservative Republican just doesn't mesh well," she said. "That was making my life a little bit turbulent."
Later, Marcel-Keyes told a cable news show that her parents "were not too pleased" when they learned she was a lesbian, but she said she loves them "very much, and they love me. They can't support my activities."
Her father, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois last year, created a stir in August when he said during an interview that homosexuality was "selfish hedonism" and that Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter was a sinner.
In a statement issued Monday night, Keyes said: "My daughter is an adult, and she is responsible for her own actions. What she chooses to do has nothing to do with my work or political activities."
Marcel-Keyes said she received an outpouring of support when disclosing her sexual orientation, but her late friend did not.
"Like me, he grew up queer in a conservative household," she said. But where she got hundreds of e-mails, offers of a place to stay and a college scholarship, "he'd been out there two years and had gotten nothing."
"And the worst part is, he isn't the only one," Marcel-Keyes said.