News & Politics

Openly Gay Mayoral Candidate Found Dead in Mississippi

Marco McMillan's probable homicide comes after hardscrabble life and brave campaign.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Marco McMillan for Mayor

Marco McMillan, a mayoral candidate from a Mississippi town, was found dead near a river Wednesday, the AP reports. Authorities say they are investigating the openly gay candidate’s death as a homicide.

McMillan was running for mayor of Clarksdale, Mississippi, a town famous for its blues music. A campaign spokesperson told CBS that his candidate ran an unconventional campaign, and that he “may have been the first openly gay man to be a viable candidate for public office in the state.”

The McMillan for Mayor Facebook page called the campaign a “movement,” claiming to have received international support. On February 7, the campaign posted, “Fear is the enemy of faith. And faith is fear that said its prayers. At some point silence becomes the enemy. This is a fight for what is right. Join the movement!”

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Reports characterize McMillan as a rising star with an already impressive record. The candidate served for four years as International Executive Director for the historically black Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. A statement released by the fraternity notes that McMillan “was responsible for securing the first federal contract to raise the awareness of the adverse impact of HIV/AIDS on communities of color.”

In 2004, Ebony Magazineincluded McMillan on a list of “30 up-and-coming African-American leaders less than 30 years old.”

McMillan also served as executive assistant to Alabama A&M University and assistant to the vice president at Jackson State University.

Moments after authorities reported McMillan’s death, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund tweeted, “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Marco McMillian, one of the 1st viable openly #LGBT candidates in Mississippi.”

CBS reports supporters say McMillan had “big ideas for Clarksdale.” McMillan’s own words seem to corroborate those claims. On February 8, just under 20 days before McMillan was found dead, an eerie post on his Facebook page reads:

“I came from nothing and will die with nothing but my dignity. So why not use my life for good?”


Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.