Marco McMillian, Gay Man of Color and Candidate for Mayor, Murdered in Mississippi

On Wednesday, Marco McMillian was found dead on a Mississippi River levee. He was a gay man of color running for mayor of Clarksdale, Mississippi, and his death is being investigated as a homicide. According to a spokesperson from the campaign, McMillian may very well have been the first openly gay man to run for public office in the state. He was 34 years old.

via abcnews

via abcnews

According to reports, McMillian’s SUV crashed head-on into another car on the highway on Tuesday, but McMillian himself was not in the vehicle, which is when the police began searching for him. Driving the car was 22-year-old Lawrence Reed, who is now being charged with the murder. As of this morning, authorities haven’t released a possible motive, and despite McMillian’s minority status, police said they had “no reason to suspect that his death was a hate crime.”

According to campaign spokesman Jarod Keith, McMillian had “big plans for Clarksdale.” Sissiretta Melton, a resident who knew McMillian since they were in seventh grade together, said that the candidate “knew this town needed him.” She said, “Kids here have nothing. We don’t even have a decent movie theater. He wanted to bring those things here.”

One family member who wished to remain anonymous told the New York Times that he believed the homicide was politically motivated. He said, “Maybe some people didn’t want him to run. Maybe he was a threat. They wanted Clarksdale to stay the same.”

Despite this speculation, McMillian was a well-respected candidate by many. In 2004, he was named one of the “30 up-and-coming African Americans” under age 30 by Ebony. He was also the CEO of MWM & Associates, which was a consulting firm for nonprofits. He spent four years as the international executive director of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. McMillian’s campaign slogan was “Moving Clarksdale Forward,” a mission cut tragically short.

Regardless of the motive for the murder, the loss of this promising young gay man is devastating, for both his local community and for the LGBT community at large. As pointed out by The Huffington Post, “The Mississippi of 2013 is a state where where gay Americans still can’t marry their partners or count on legal protections from hate crimes and discrimination.” Had he been elected mayor, it would have been a historic event. As it stands, his death is a reminder of how far the US still has to go.

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Gabrielle Korn used to be a contributing editor at Autostraddle. These days, she's the author of "Everybody (Else) Is Perfect," a journalist, digital media expert, and the former editor-in-chief of Nylon Media, an international lifestyle publication focused on emerging culture. Under Gabrielle's editorial leadership, Nylon became a fully digital brand with an ever-growing audience and original, politically-driven, thought-provoking beauty, fashion, music, and entertainment content. She graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 2011 with a concentration in feminist/queer theory and writing. She lives in Brooklyn.

Gabrielle has written 92 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. It angers me that whenever they mention his a name on the news/radio, the word “gay” precedes his name. There is much more to this man, as which any other human on this planet, than his sexuality.

  2. This is heartbreaking, and I think it is ridiculous that the Clarksdale Police Department claims “they don’t know of a motive and don’t believe it was a hate crime” when he was a gay black man running for office in the heart of the bible belt where the KKK is still very much an active part of society.

    • That’s just….very misinformed. It’s another black man who is charged with the crime. And statistics should tell anyone that a black victim of murder is WAY more likely a victim of a black murderer than one from another race.

    • Marco McMillian was tragically killed by another black man in a town that has a black mayor and black sheriff. Mississippi’s interracial murder rate is way below the national average, and the KKK is more active in Ohio.

  3. The posts under that dishonest Huffington Post article are ripping it to shreds. HuffPo knows, like every other news source for the last three days, that the alleged murderer, Reed, is black but refuses to “go there.” They got more hits if they pretended it was an anti-black racist murder.

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