Marco McMillian, a 34-year-old candidate for mayor in Clarksdale, Mississippi, who has been described as perhaps the first politically viable openly gay candidate for office in Mississippi history, was found dead in the woods yesterday. A search had begun on Tuesday after 22-year-old Lawrence Reed was involved in an accident while driving McMillian’s car. The death is being treated as a homicide, and Reed, though not yet charged, is in custody.
Many may jump to the conclusion that, in a state not known for its tolerance — the episode brings to mind the names Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner — McMillian was killed for being gay. But McMillian’s campaign spokesman, Jerod Keith, says that the gay issue “never came up during the campaign,” and he “told ABC News Radio he did not think McMillian’s death was politically motivated or a hate crime.”
Either way, a sad end for a man whom Ebony once named one of 30 African-Americans leaders under 30.