This weekend’s New York Times Magazine has an in-depth account of bisexual actress Anne Hesche, whose mother Nancy Heche is a regular speaker at the Love Won Out ex-gay conferences put on by Focus On the Family and Exodus International. Anne has spoken out against her mother’s activities before, but in this piece, she gives some possible insight into what motivates her mother:
Anne’s account in her own memoir of her father’s sexual abuse and her mother’s denial of it is devastating. She writes that Nancy Heche told her that as an infant she couldn’t diaper Anne properly because of sores and rashes she had on her vagina but never knew why. Anne got herpes from her father, and in 1983, after he died of AIDS, doctors told her she would have to wait years to learn that she was not infected. She was 14 then; she wrote that the abuse stopped when she was 12.
Heche said that when she called her mother — during her seventh year in therapy — to confront her about the abuse, her mother ended the conversation by saying, “Jesus loves you, Anne,” before hanging up. In her memoir, Nancy Heche, who is now 72, never addresses the issue of Anne’s abuse. I contacted her publisher, Regal Books, for a response to her daughter’s comments, and was told by Jackie Morales, its marketing and publicity coordinator, that Nancy’s agent, Mark Sweeney, said his client would have no comment (though she protested Anne’s account of events at the time). Perhaps the most damning comment came from Heche, who told me she has never introduced either of her children to her mother.
Nor has she read her mother’s book. “My mother’s had a very tragic life,” she said. “Three of her five children are dead, and her husband is dead. That she is attempting to change gay people into straight people is, in my opinion, a way to keep the pain of the truth out. People wonder why I am so forthcoming with the truths that have happened in my life, and it’s because the lies that I have been surrounded with and the denial that I was raised in, for better or worse, bore a child of truth and love. My mother preaches to this day the opposite of that core of my life. It is no mistake that she still stands up against love. And one wonders why I’m not rushing to have her meet my children.”
In the talks that Nancy Heche gives to Love Won Out conferences, she credits her own prayers for Anne Heche’s leaving Ellen DeGeneres, her former partner. And in her talk, she then implies that Anne is now straight. But Anne denies that, and ties that tumultuous period in her life to the a psychosis she experienced due to the severe sexual abuse she suffered as a child.
Both women have lived tragic lives. One is confronting it head on and dealing with the aftermath; the other continues to live in denial and encourages others to embrace similar denials. Anne’s path of refusing to live in denial has lead to incredible growth:
I had a mother whose whole life was based on not looking around or knowing anything. If you’re a man who’s living with that kind of woman, you’re keeping her in a bubble so that you can do whatever you want. It’s not a big mystery how people hide abuse. They keep somebody in a bubble, and they go and do whatever the hell they want, and the person in the bubble says: ‘I love my bubble. This is the only bubble I’ve ever known, and I don’t want out of my bubble.’ Then 20 years later, you’re confronted with truths that happened from all of your children, and you say, ‘I was in a bubble.’ ” She sighed. “There’s no mystery to any life story. How do you think I turned out the way that I am? Because every single thing in my life leads to it. Every single thing in her life leads to where she is — still living in a bubble. Exactly where she always wanted to be. There’s not a lot of mystery. It’s why my brother ended up on the side of a road.” She stopped talking then and looked at me, seeming suddenly to realize someone else was there. She took a deep breath. “I hear people’s stories,” she said quietly, “and I’m so touched by how people survive their lives.”