She quietly campaigned and supported her father during his run for U.S. Senate in Illinois. Now, Maya Keyes says her family has cut her off. It's a "180" from the November election to last month, when she came out publicly as a lesbian.
I found Maya Keyes to be the dictionary definition of "contradiction." A waif of a person, dressed like an immature rebel teen. Still, a woman with big, mature ideas about the world, herself and her famous father.
"I knew that my parents and I, we have big fundamental differences on lots of things. I knew that it would probably, eventually lead to big, big problems," Keyes says.
But Maya Keyes says she never expected to be barred from her family's Maryland home.
"I've seen it happen to other kids who are friends of mine.. and.. it's just beyond me," Keyes says. "I don't understand how people can do that to their own kids."
When it comes to her own parents, Keyes is conflicted.
"You said at one point, 'Sometimes I can't believe I'm related to this man, based on the differences in our beliefs.' "
"Well, I'm sure he feels the exact same way about me sometimes," she says.
"Are you and your parents speaking right now?"
"We -- occasionally -- it's sort of tense," Keyes replies.
Growing up gay and the daughter of an outspoken conservative commentator has created a woman of contradictions. Maya Keyes is deeply religious. Like her father, she's anti-abortion. Unusual for a self-described 'liberal anarchist lesbian.'
"It was hard," Keyes recalls. "I wanted to, you know, be straight. I wanted to be normal and good and unsinful."
She jumps at the chance to blast her conservative critics, saying "I don't know where in the Bible they find the part tells them to go around being cruel and trying to make people suffer."
Yet she instinctively defends her father. Though not with the same passion.
"He'll always be my father. I'll always be his daughter. He.. still loves me," Keyes says.
"He's essentially said, 'You're out of the house. You're on your own. We're not going to finance your college.' "
"Financing things like my education would be sort of financing my activism for causes so opposed to what he believes in. So I really understand and accept that decision because it only makes sense," she replies.
"I do not say that homosexual relations is an abomination, the Bible says so," said Alan Keyes during a televised debate in October 2004.
"Does the mindset of your parents about this hurt you?"
"Well, of course it hurts," Maya Keyes says. "Everyone wants their parents to accept them. So I've been sort of coming to terms with it myself and learning to, I guess, love myself even if they don't totally accept me entirely. So, it hurts, but I'll live."
Though her sexuality is coming as news to most, Keyes says her parents have known for years.
"I've been out to everybody who's known me. I think that's about as out as I can be. But since I didn't go on Fox News and say it, then I wasn't out before now?" she asks.
Maya Keyes has written openly about being lesbian in her online diary. Yet she took the website down after it caused whispers during her father's senate campaign. She remained uncharacteristically silent as he spoke of her sexuality in hypothetical terms at the Republican National Convention last summer: "If my own daughter were a homosexual, or a lesbian, I would love my daughter; but I would tell my daughter that she was in sin," he told reporters.
"Hearing that, and then a couple of weeks later, you're working hard for him on the campaign trail?"
"I already knew what my parents believe about this. I'd known for years," Maya Keyes says.
"Have they ever said it to your face? 'You're a hedonist sinner?' "
"They don't put it so harshly."
"But he did. He did publicly."
"But, but, I mean, I knew that was how they felt. They usually aren't so accusatory."
"Your father says you're sinful. Do you think you're sinful?"
"Well, it was sort of odd to see that on the news. But it wasn't anything I hadn't heard at home already before," Keyes says. "I really don't think that there's anything wrong with loving who you love. There's so many other bad things I could be doing in life. I don't know why people choose to focus on, you know, a healthy, monogamous committed relationship and say that that's somehow evil and wrong and bad and dirty. I just don't understand. When there's still so much evil in the world, why people would pick on love! Of all things."
"Have you told your dad that?"
"Well, I don't think my... that's really going to change anything in his opinion. So. There's not really a whole lot of point to that."
"Who'd you vote for for President?"
"Who'd I vote for? Nader!"
"How about the U.S. Senate in Illinois?"
"I voted for my dad."
"Now I might be getting some liberal hate mail. So that would be a change of direction."
Whichever direction the hate mail comes from, Keyes is convinced the country is becoming more understanding.
"To some extent, people are always afraid of what they perceive as different than them. but for the most part, I think attitudes really are changing a lot," she says.
"Does your father hinder that progress, though?"
"Do I have to answer that question?"
For his part, after his daughter went public last month, Alan Keyes responded only in a statement, saying "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."
© Fox Television Stations, Inc. All rights reserved.