Navy veteran Michael Aycox is a political candidate for the history books as he is the first openly gay candidate ever to run in a Mississippi congressional race.
One of two Democrats on the ballot in the June primary for Mississippi’s 3rd congressional district seat, Aycox came out to his family when he was 20 years-old. Although he feels he’s lived the past 10 years as an out gay man, he never felt the need to announce to the world, “I’m gay.”
But a recent event hosted by the Human Rights Campaign inspired him to stand up on behalf of his community.
"Until the campaign, I never really 'came out.' I didn't," he told the Clarion-Ledger. "This is me. It's not who I am, it doesn't define me, it's just a part of me. It's like having brown hair, it doesn't change who I am … I didn't do this to be the voice of the LGBT community. I did this for change. I did this to make a difference."
Married since 2013 to his husband Mario, the couple lives in Newton, Mississippi, with their black lab, Sasha, who they rescued from a local humane society.
Aycox now works as an investigator for the Newton Police Department and Mario serves in the Florida Air National Guard. With Mario preparing to be deployed, Aycox is campaigning a lot on his own these days.
The 30-year-old was moved to run for public office after a disappointing experience with his own congressman, 3rd District U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, who announced his retirement in January.
Aycox had reached out to the congressman after receiving a diagnosis of thyroid cancer in 2016. He’d contacted Harper’s office regarding help with his medical treatment, but says the congressman’s response time was disappointing. Aycox says he wants to be a congressman who is “easy to get in touch with.”
The only other Democrat in the race for the congressional seat is Michael T. Evans, currently a state representative and chicken farmer.
While Aycox and Evans agree on much (supporting law enforcement and military, funding infrastructure and education), the two definitely have their differences.
Evans opposes marriage equality and voted in favor of HB1523, the anti-LGBTQ bill that allowed businesses to deny services to people based on religious beliefs..
Aycox says he gets emotional when he meets constituents at campaign events who feel they've been discriminated against because of their sexuality thanks to the law.
"1583 literally shoved the community into the closet under penalty of law," Aycox told the Clarion-Ledger.
The primary for Mississippi’s 3rd congressional district seat will be held on June 5.