Former Congresswoman Katie Hill, who resigned four months ago amid allegations she had an affair with a female staffer, says rampant biphobia played a major part in the scandal.
Hill, a Democrat from California, stepped down in October after the House Ethics Committee said it would investigate whether she had an affair with a congressional staffer. Hill continues to deny those charges, but admits having an affair with a campaign staffer previously.
Hill spoke Thursday with Good Morning America‘s George Stephanapoulous, who asked how much of the scandal was tied to the fact that she’s bisexual.
“I think a lot of it is,” Hill said. “It’s also partly because I’m a woman. We haven’t seen as many of the sex scandals with women, but the bisexuality is a huge part of it. There’s a fantasy element of it. There’s biphobia that is rampant still, and certainly a misunderstanding of what bisexuality is. And it’s sensationalizing: The headlines are much better than just, ‘Congressman has affair with former campaign staffer.'”
In her resignation speech, Hill railed against the “double standard” in Congress because many male members who’ve been involved in sex scandals maintain their positions.
In the Good Morning America interview, Hill acknowledged she was close to suicide in the wake of the ordeal.
“I knew of all the girls and young women who looked up to me, who saw this happen to me,” she said. “If the ultimate outcome was, this destroyed me, and I committed suicide, what would that tell them? That couldn’t be my final story.”
In any case, Hill is convinced she made the right decision by resigning, to avoid becoming a liability to her Democratic colleagues, after intimate photos of her were published by the Daily Mail.
“We knew from the people who had the photos, that had obtained the photos, that there were hundreds more images and text messages that were out there, that I had no idea what they could be or how they could be taken out of context,” Hill said.
Hill previously described her feelings at the time in an op-ed for the New York Times.
“Many people have nightmares in which they’re naked in public, trapped and trying to escape. In the days leading up to my resignation, my life was just like everyone’s worst nightmare. Millions of people had seen pictures of me naked,” Hill wrote.
Since leaving office, Hill has put together a new group to support women and young people running for office, HER Time, which released its mission statement this week.
“What happened to me was horrific, and it was a harsh reminder of how women in power and politics still have so far to go and so much to overcome,” Hill said. “Her Time’s work—my work—is to ensure that my experience never deters other young women from running for office and getting engaged, and instead does the opposite.”