Of all the stunning things that happened at James McGreevey's press conference on August 12, 2004, the most stunning, in the eyes of some, was the behavior of the woman beside him. Dina Matos McGreevey, then 37, stood by her man as he resigned the governorship of New Jersey, confessed to having cheated on her, and announced, "I am a gay American." But if Dina's world was crumbling, she didn't show it. She wore a trim blue St. John suit, a string of pearls, and an inscrutable smile.
Afterward, the uncommonly private first lady disappeared into her life, devoting herself to the care of her 2-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, and returning to her old job as executive director of the Columbus Foundation in Newark.
But now Dina is ready to talk. Nine months after Jim (whom bloggers were already calling Gov. McCreepy) published a tell-all memoir that drew fire for its insensitivity to his family, Dina has published a memoir of her own. In Silent Partner, she writes about growing up in a close-knit Catholic Portuguese-immigrant family, falling in love with Jim, building a life with him, and then watching as that life shattered around her. Gayle King sat down with her to find out more.
Gayle: We talk a lot in this magazine about trusting your gut instincts. In your marriage to Jim McGreevey, did you ignore yours?
Dina: No. I always thought of myself as a good judge of character—people have always told me that—but with Jim I was just totally off. He was charming, he was charismatic, he was always trying to help people. That's the man I fell in love with.
Gayle: Yet so many people suspected he was gay.
Dina: I never heard that.
Dina: No. Actually, one person did say something to me once, but I was like, "What are you talking about?" Because there were also rumors that the two of us weren't living in the same house. ... False things were always being said. That's the nature of politics. So when one person mentioned the gay rumor, I dismissed it. That wasn't the Jim I knew.
Gayle: I've heard people say that you did know, but that you had political ambitions and liked being first lady and so you were willing to go along with it.
Dina: Well, I did like being first lady of New Jersey, but not because of the politics. I hated the politics. I love people. I loved helping people, whether it was raising money for cancer or raising awareness of childhood obesity.