Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith has been chosen as the grand marshal of the St. Pete Pride Parade, reports Chris George in the Largo Leader. Smith was also honored by Equality Florida with the Voice for Equality Award.

Smith is openly gay, but was in the closet for many years and hesitant about running for office. In 2008 he came out, which he says was “the most wonderful experience other than getting elected. I came out and started to run for office. I didn’t think I could win being openly gay and I did.”

The year before, a city manager had been fired after deciding to undergo gender affirming surgery and live openly as Susan Stanton. In 2011, Michael Smith replaced City Commissioner Mary Gray Black, who spearheaded the campaign against Stanton.

Smith believes the city is improving its stance on LGBTQ+ issues. He enjoys speaking with LGBTQ+ and straight audiences about his experiences and how Largo can change for the better.

I’m a believer that I can make a small difference for the LGBT community by working to educate other elected leaders about the importance of equality and compassion,” he stated.

Read the Largo Leader article here.