I heard the news that Democratic gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud was gay a week before it was officially announced by him to the media.
I was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room. The elderly gentleman seated beside me said so.
Journalists never know where a good source might turn up.
He was waiting for his wife.
The room was crowded, but it was just the two of us in this particular corner.
Despite my obvious interest in the dated People magazine I was perusing, it was clear we were going to converse — or rather he was going to tell me stuff.
He was a Susan Collins’ supporter he said. He has been to her house.
“She’s not gay. Course everyone knows that now ‘cause she’s married,” he told me in his big, booming voice.
I nodded politely and sent up silent prayers that somewhere in the complex, a medical assistant was making his or her way to the lobby to call my name.
And then out it came — loudly.
“I can tell you who is gay though — that Mike Michaud — he’s gay, and I know it.”
At that exact moment, my savior in scrubs called my name, and I escaped to the inner sanctum. I had never been so thrilled to step onto the scale.
A few days later in an airport I see the headline, “I’m gay.”
Seems my senior friend knew what he was talking about.
Me? I had no idea — had never heard a whisper — sadly, I didn’t even know whether he was married or had ever been married.
I’ve wondered whether that makes me uninformed, but in reality, I think it’s because I’ve never been a passionate supporter.
Or could it be that I truly didn’t care?
Could it be that we truly have evolved to the point where, at least to some of us, it really doesn’t matter? It actually is not an issue?
Because that is the goal isn’t it? When gay men and women hold high office and are not identified as the “first gay” anything? It’ll be awhile, I know. Women have been working for equality for decades yet still make headlines when they get appointed as a CEO of pretty much anything or earn a six or seven figure salary.
We still know when a city elects its first black mayor.
Decades and laws have passed easing the way for women and minorities to have equal chances, equal pay, equal respect — but it is still newsworthy when they reach a level of notoriety.
There is no headline ever that reads that some company, somewhere just appointed its first ever straight, white man to head its multi-billion dollar operation.
I’m not offended by any of that. Historically those headlines will tell the story of our age and our battles, and they are truthful — and perhaps someday, the successes of women, minorities, gays and lesbians will not be so notable — they will be expected and normal.
I know it’s important to the gay and lesbian community that Michaud “came out” and could be the first openly gay governor if elected next year, but I hope they also take some pleasure in knowing that at least some of us didn’t even think to ask.
Contact Renee Ordway at firstname.lastname@example.org.