U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the Democratic candidate for governor, will be a grand marshal at this year’s Pride Parade in Portland.
Michaud, who represents the rural, more conservative 2nd District, announced that he is gay in an op-ed article last fall. If elected, he would be the first openly gay candidate to be elected governor in U.S. history.
In a written statement, Michaud said he was honored to be leading the parade through downtown Portland on June 21.
“Over the years Maine has been a leader in our country’s march toward equality for LGBT citizens, and I look forward to continuing that march alongside all of you this year,” Michaud said.
Campaign spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt said Michaud has never marched in the parade, but has participated in other pride events, such as the Democratic Party’s pride brunch. In 2012, he appeared in the “It Gets Better” video, which sought to reassure members of the LGBT community who face harassment.
Joining Michaud as grand marshals are Sarah Holmes, the assistant director of student life and diversity and the coordinator for the Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity at the University of Southern Maine, and the family of Nicole Maines, a transgender student who won a discrimination lawsuit in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court after her school refused to let her use the girls bathroom.
“Congressman Michaud, Sarah Holmes and the Maines family are incredible assets to our LGBTQA community in Maine,” Pride Portland Co-Chair Jill Barkley said in a written statement. “We are thrilled to be able to recognize their leadership, service and ongoing commitment to make our state a place where everyone feels welcome and valued. It will be an honor to have this outstanding group lead our parade.”
Barkley said Pride Portland!, which took over the parade from Southern Maine Pride, solicited the community for grand marshal nominees. This year’s marshals were chosen by the parade committee and approved by the steering committee, she said.
The Maines family was nominated for their advocacy for transgender and student rights.
“We are extremely proud of our state for protecting the rights of all Maine’s children,” Nicole Maines’ father, Wayne, said in a written statement. “We want to say thank you to our state and city of Portland for all they have done to help us remain safe, to grow and to prosper.”
This year will mark the 28th Pride Parade in Portland – an event that draws more than 2,000 participants and thousands of spectators. The parade, which celebrates Portland’s gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied community, starts at Monument Square, continues up Congress Street and down High street, and ends in Deering Oaks park.
In 2012 – the same year that same-sex marriage was on the ballot, the parade drew an estimated 7,000 marchers, including Portland Mayor Michael Brennan and Police Chief Michael Sauschuck, who were grand marshals.
The parade is the climax of a week’s worth of events. Festivities kick off on Friday, June 13. Other activities include a 5k road race, a kickball tournament, EqualityMaine’s Spirit of Pride event and a panel discussion about the history of pride celebrations in Maine. A “Dyke March” will take place on June 20 and a dance party will follow Saturday’s parade.
Pride Portland! will hold a launch party on Thursday at Port City Music Hall to announce the full schedule of events, Barkley said.
Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at: