Monica Lewinsky, the former White House aide with whom Bill Clinton insisted he did not have sex (except oral, of course), has kept a low profile for a decade. But in excerpts from an upcoming Vanity Fair article about her fling with the then-president, Lewinsky reveals a surprising reason why she’s speaking out now: the suicide of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers student who killed himself after two other students streamed his encounter with another male student live on the internet.
Clementi’s suicide in September 2010 made Lewinsky cry, but it really shook her mother up. “She was reliving 1998, when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight.” Lewinsky writes. “She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal. The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life—a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death.”
Lewinsky writes she had suicidal thoughts, but never acted upon them. After Clementi’s death, she felt that “my own suffering took on a different meaning. Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation. The question became: How do I find and give a purpose to my past?”
If nothing else, Lewinsky has shined a new spotlight on Clementi’s death, years after attention to that tragic event has faded.
As for Lewinsky, her re-emergence is bound to be linked to Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations. (Republican Sen. Rand Paul has already used the Lewinsky card to rally the GOP base.) In the excerpt, Lewinsky, now 40, goes surprisingly easy on Hillary, considering that the former First Lady once called her a “narcissistic loony toon.”
Perhaps the best bit from the excerpt is directed at, of all people, Beyoncé, who refers to Lewinsky in her hit “Partition.” Says Lewinsky, “Thanks, Beyoncé, but if we’re verbing, I think you meant ‘Bill Clinton’d all on my gown,’ not ‘Monica Lewinsky’d.’”