New York Mayor Bill de Blasio Says Friend Terrence McNally’s COVID-19 Death Proves “Crisis Is Not Just Numbers”

Terrence McNally, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Tom Kirdahy, June 26 2015 Shutterstock

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who officiated at a 2015 marriage reaffirmation ceremony between his longtime friend and college roommate Tom Kirdahy and playwright Terrence McNally, said at a City Hall briefing on the coronavirus today that the writer’s COVID-19 death proves “this crisis is not just numbers.”

The mayor, pausing occasionally to sigh as he recalled his friendship with the playwright, had just updated the official numbers on New York City’s coronavirus death count — 131 — when he spoke of McNally, who died today in Florida of complications from COVID-19.

McNally, whose works included Master Class, Love! Valour! Compassion! and Ragtime, among many others, married Kirdahy in a civil union ceremony in Vermont on December 20, 2003, then married in Washington, D.C. on April 6, 2010. They reaffirmed their vows in New York City in July of 2015 to mark the passage of marriage equality in New York.

“We’ve lost a great New Yorker,” de Blasio said, “one of the most really renowned members of our cultural community, the great playwright Terrence McNally, someone who epitomizes so much about this city. He came here from Texas as a young man, brought all of his talents, wrote some of the greatest plays of recent member, but also was someone who worked so hard for a better New York City and a better America for everyone.

“I had the honor of knowing Terrence because he ended up marrying one of my college roommates, Tom Kirdahy. I went to NYU, and my roommate and I stayed friends over all the years. I got to know Terrence when they were married. In fact, once Marriage Equality was finally the law of the land, we held a ceremony right in front of City Hall in our plaza, and performed a marriage ceremony for Terrence and Tom to mark that historic occasion.

“An amazing, amazing New Yorker who did so much good, so we all should have Terrence McNally and his husband Tom Kirdahy in our thoughts and prayers. And to Terrence, rest in peace and thank you for all you did for this city and this nation.”

Pausing briefly, de Blasio continued, “As you can see, this crisis is not just numbers. It’s not just happening somewhere else or to somebody else. This is going to be something we all feel very directly in our lives before it’s over.”

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