Rachel Maddow's Parents Were Very Catholic, and She Grew up "Very Conservative"


Nov. 20 2020, Published 2:14 p.m. ET

rachel maddow parents
Source: Getty Images

Over her years on the air, Rachel Maddow has proven to be a compelling advocate for a wide variety of liberal causes. Among those who enjoy watching MSNBC, Rachel is one of the most beloved hosts, in part because she seems so willing to say exactly what she's thinking. Although many of her fans are familiar with her work on TV, fewer know how her upbringing and her parents shaped her worldview. 

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Who are Rachel Maddow's parents?

Rachel was born to Robert and Elaine Maddow in 1973 in Castro Valley, Calif. Robert was an Air Force captain who resigned his commission the year before his daughter was born. He went on to work as a lawyer for the East Bay Municipal Utility District. Elaine worked as a school program administrator. Rachel also has an older brother named David. 

rachel maddow parents
Source: Getty Images
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Although her father's side of the family came from Ashkenazi Jews, Rachel has said that she was raised in a Catholic household, and her mother described her upbringing as 'very conservative.' That conservative upbringing didn't ultimately dictate the course of Rachel's political career, but it did create a messy situation when it came time for her parents to discover that she was gay.

Rachel was actually outed by her college newspaper at Stanford University during her freshman year. She did an interview with the paper along with a friend about how they were the only two out gay people in the entire freshman class. She told the paper that she hadn't come out to her parents yet, and asked that they hold the interview until she could tell them herself. 

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Unfortunately, the timeline didn't quite work out that way, and Rachel's parents wound up finding out about their daughter's sexuality from her college newspaper. "They would have had a hard time with me coming out anyway, but this was a particularly nasty way for them to find out," Rachel wrote after the fact in The Daily Beast. "They’re wonderful now, and couldn’t be more supportive, but they took it poorly at first, which I don’t fault them for."

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Rachel Maddow's partner has COVID-19.

Now that her parents are more supportive of her sexuality, Rachel has occasionally been willing to get candid about her personal life with her viewers. In a recent segment, she discussed her partner Susan Mikula's struggle fighting COVID-19. Earlier this month, Rachel had announced that she would be quarantining after she came into "close contact" with someone who tested positive. 

"Susan has been sick with COVID these past couple of weeks," she said during her show. "And, at one point, we really thought that there was a possibility that it might kill her. And that's why I've been away. Susan tested positive two weeks ago, we separated from each other that day because I tested negative ... so she and I have both been alone since then."

"She had gotten sicker and sicker, while I tried to care for her while still staying physically apart from her," Rachel added. "And the bottom line is that she's gonna be fine. She is recovering. She's still sick, but she's gonna be okay and we're not scared anymore like we were."

She concluded by urging viewers to be careful, and explaining how severe COVID could be. 

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