Nancy Prickett Heche
Nancy Abigail Baker Prickett
March 10, 1937
|Children||5, including Anne|
Nancy Prickett Heche (//; born Nancy Abigail Baker Prickett, March 10, 1937) is an American activist. She is the mother of five children, four of whom are deceased, including actress Anne Heche. In her memoir The Truth Comes Out, she describes her experiences after her daughter announced she was involved in a relationship with Ellen DeGeneres.
Prickett is the daughter of Marietta Susan (Tukey) and Richard Carleton Prickett. As a child, she attended a Methodist church and was raised in Indiana. She met her future husband, Donald Joe Heche, in high school. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Heche family belonged to a fundamentalist church and resided in an Amish settlement. In a 2009 profile of her daughter Anne, The New York Times described Nancy Heche as an "eerily compliant wife". The New York Times, in paraphrasing her 2006 memoir, characterized Heche as someone who "essentially missed the '60s ... never reading a newspaper, listening to the radio or watching television."
In 1983, Donald Heche died of AIDS. Upon learning of the diagnosis, Heche became aware that her husband had been closeted. Three months following the death of her husband, Heche's 18-year-old son Nathan was killed in a car crash.
In 1997, Heche's daughter, Anne, publicly announced her relationship with comedian Ellen DeGeneres. Heche said, "She became sort of the poster child for coming out and bringing the whole homosexual issue into the public eye and even glamorizing and humorizing it, laughing about it, making it just another kind of love relationship". Heche said her daughter's sexuality was "like a betrayal of an unspoken vow: We will never have anything to do with homosexuals." After reading the Old Testament book of Isaiah, Heche became convinced that sexual orientation change was possible for her daughter, and likened what she believed would be their eventual reconciliation to the parable of the Prodigal Son.
Heche was estranged from Anne after the latter confronted her about her father's alleged sexual abuse. In her 2001 memoir Call Me Crazy, Anne wrote that when she contracted genital herpes as an infant, her mother insisted that it was a diaper rash and refused to take her to the doctor. Heche was outraged by Anne's allegations, responding, "I am trying to find a place for myself in this writing, a place where I as Anne's mother do not feel violated or scandalized ... I find no place among the lies and blasphemies in the pages of this book." Heche's daughter Abigail has said, "Based on my experience and her own expressed doubts, I believe that [Anne's] memories regarding our father are untrue. And I can state emphatically, regardless of Anne's beliefs, that the assertion that our mother knew about such behavior is absolutely false."
Daniel Kusner, writing in the Dallas Voice, criticized Heche for failing to protect her children and for glossing over her failure in her 2006 memoir, The Truth Comes Out. According to Kusner, "Faith in her Bible-sanctioned marriage made Nancy blind, deaf and stupid".
In 2009, Anne told the New York Times: "My mother's had a very tragic life. 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".
Since her husband's death from AIDS, Nancy Heche has been a Christian therapist and motivational speaker, who lectures on behalf of James Dobson's Focus on the Family about "overcoming homosexuality". Heche believes that homosexuality is a sin and that through faith in Jesus Christ people can change their sexual orientation, noting that she is not attempting to "convert" gays. She speaks in many areas of the country, often at churches and other organized events, about "leaving homosexuality". Speaking about Heche's activism, Melissa Fryrear, a self-described "former lesbian" and Focus on the Family's director of gender issues for their government and public policy division, said, "It's wonderful because she obviously offers two unique perspectives, one that she is the parent of someone involved in the homosexual lifestyle and as a spouse whose husband led a secret life."
Heche has been a speaker for Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX). On September 8, 2006, Heche was the "Back of the Book guest" on the Fox News show The O'Reilly Factor.[better source needed] She appeared twice on the Christian Broadcasting Network's Engaging your World in December 2006.[better source needed]
Heche adheres to the Bible's "mandate that Christians must love, gays and lesbians included". She has said, "We are supposed to be known by our love. So to categorize it or think it's going to be different for someone who is living homosexually is a misconception. We just show love." Heche has been criticized by other Christian activists, both those who believe that a person's sexuality is determined by God and those who believe that homosexuality is a sin.
After Don dropped out of medical school, he never found a profession that lasted, becoming a part-time church organist and choir director, hatching doomed schemes to make money and stowing his family in rural Ohio in a religious compound. In her own 2006 memoir, The Truth Comes Out, Nancy Heche wrote that she essentially missed the '60s there, never reading a newspaper, listening to the radio or watching television.
I don't think I've ever seen a person with as much heartbreak as you've had. Your husband led a secret double life as a bisexual, and he died of AIDS in 1983. You had one child die from a birth defect, another daughter die of brain cancer. Your only son was killed in a car accident, and then you had a conflict with your daughter, Anne, about the lesbian relationship.
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