PORTLAND, Maine — A Democratic candidate who reluctantly came out of the closet last year found himself serving as the grand marshal of Maine’s biggest gay pride parade and festival Saturday and urged activists to continue fighting to eliminate discrimination and promote equality.
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), who would become the nation’s first openly gay person to be elected governor if he unseats Republican Paul LePage in November, said it would be powerful for the gay community to have a seat at the table in discussions with governors across the country on equality issues.
“Maine has come a long ways and our nation has come a long ways, but there’s still a long way to go,” he said in an interview before he marched alongside a white convertible down the roughly milelong route in downtown Portland.
Article continues belowGay rights activists say a victory for Michaud — a six-term congressman who has served in the U.S. House since 2003 — would be a key milestone in their movement toward equality, inspire other gay leaders to pursue public office and send a positive message to the community’s youth.
When Michaud came out publicly last year, he said he didn’t want to focus on his personal life in the three-person race with independent Eliot Cutler.
But his potentially historic candidacy has caught the eye of national groups like the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which has bundled $30,000 to $50,000 for his campaign.
During the parade, which drew thousands, Michaud shook hands and took pictures with supporters who chanted “We like Mike” as he walked in front of the “Loud and Proud”