Delanoe’s declaration in an interview with Le Monde newspaper puts to rest months of speculation. “Yes, I will put all my energy at the service of my beliefs,” the mayor told Le Monde newspaper when asked if he would run.
In March Delanoe romped to an easy re-election as Paris mayor, fueling speculation his Socialist Party would tap him to run against President Sarkozy in 2012. If he were to win the presidency it would make Delanoe the first openly gay man in modern times to lead a major power.
In 1998, while he was a relatively obscure city councilor, Delanoe came out in a television interview, breaking an unwritten French law that a politician’s private life should remain private. He later said that friends urged him not to go public, but that he overruled them because of the good he felt it would do to advance gay rights. “Would not my intervention help even if only in a small way to lighten the burden of secrecy borne by so many people,” he wrote in his 2004 biography.
In 2001 Delanoe was elected the capital’s first ever Socialist mayor and the first gay person to head a city government in a major city.
You may recall that shortly after he was elected, Delanoe was brutally stabbed by a homophobe and spent weeks in the hospital. As horrible as that was, I can’t imagine that a viable openly gay presidential candidate in the United States would survive much longer than his nomination. Interestingly, Delanoe’s greatest support comes from France’s poor and working classes.