PORTLAND — Bre Kidman readily admits to being a weird candidate for the U.S. Senate.

The 31-year-old Saco lawyer has posed, scantily clad, in a kiddie pool full of glitter, worn a long necklace made of doughnuts while nearly nude and gladly embraced a stage identity as a “queer feminist mermaid.”

A poster for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bre Kidman’s performance art show at Portland House of Music six weeks ago.

Though born female, Kidman does not use feminine pronouns, preferring “they or their” to the traditional “she or hers,” a trend some younger people accept but that can sound grating to older ears.

Looking back on life, Kidman said they have been fat since they were 7, gay since age 10 and figuring out what it all means ever since.

“Like all other politicians, whether or not they want to admit it, I’m a human being who has grown and changed over the years,” the Democratic hopeful said. “I am funny. I’m weird. I’m serious. I’m happy. I’m sad. I’m a lot of different things.”

“And I want to be in a culture where it’s OK to be a lot of different things and also take part in building what we as a country are,” Kidman said at a Portland coffee shop two weeks into a long-shot campaign to defeat four-term Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in next year’s election.

Kidman is the only Democrat who is actively running against Collins, though higher profile politicians are eyeing the race. There is also an independent, Danielle VanHelsing, a transgender activist from Sangerville.

Kidman, who uses the name “BeeKay Esq.” when performing, recognizes that many Mainers will look upon the candidacy as a joke. But, Kidman said, it’s not.

A 10-song album of music by Bre Kidman, candidate for U.S. Senate.

That’s why, Kidman claims to be on the phone three hours a day raising money — determined to collect at least a third of the more than $500,000 required to be competitive in the June 2020 primary.

One thing Kidman won’t do, though, is scrub away a complicated social media history to try to hide the past.

Growing up in Rhode Island, Kidman said her family included all sorts of people — gay and straight, wealthy and poor, struggling with addictions and recovering from them. Taken together, it meant “I got a lot of perspective” on life, the candidate said.

At age seven, Kidman said an illness contributed to a serious weight gain. As a fat kid, Kidman said, “I was not popular.”

By age 10, Kidman added “queer” to the mix, learning “how to exist in a world where people were unkind to me” after word got around.

The worst moment, though, came at age 16 when, during a study abroad period as a high school junior, Kidman was raped in Finland. “It rocked my world,” Kidman said, leading to years of dealing with post-traumatic stress.

“It’s scary and it’s hard” after something like that, Kidman said, and it helped spur an artistic interest as one way to figure out how to cope.

Through it, though, an always verbose Kidman kept talking, sometimes on stage as an actor, sometimes on a debate team that went to nationals three times. Heated arguments were commonplace in Kidman’s life.

Demcoratic candidate for U.S. Senate Bre Kidman, a Saco lawyer who hopes to defeat U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in the 2020 election. (Photo provided)

In college in Chicago, a spat over a newspaper issue focused on sex convinced Kidman that the law was the way to go.

During law school and in the years since, Kidman has focused her time out of the office on creating musical theater and “inviting all the weird kids” who could never get a role to participate. It was a way to share the pain.

In a swirl of theater and song, Kidman said the trauma of earlier years slipped ever more into the background, part of life but no longer controlling it.

“The key to it is getting over enough things,” the candidate said, to find a greater context for the events that once caused so much heartache.

“I feel like I’ve done a lot with those years,” Kidman said, making space “to think through things,” not just about personal experiences but also for others whose lives have had their share of troubles as well.

Kidman’s album, “Lies I Tell About Myself,” offers “an unexpected and nimble mix of rock, industrial rhythms, warped disco, lo-fi bedroom pop, and 8-bit glitch-core — odd, dysphoric terrain for any singer to work with,” as the Portland Phoenix put in a December review.

The reviewer said the 10-song record takes darkness and throws it “up into the air, laughing at it and splattering it with glitter.”

In Kidman’s performance art, glitter has its place as well.

Once Kidman sat in a kiddie pool on stage and urged those in attendance to throw their cares and worries into it. Another time, Kidman adorned her body with a long string of doughnuts, part of doughnut-themed evening that left the skin beneath the various glazes “sticky and uncomfortable.”

That art has left a trail of photographs, video and song that may shock or confuse some voters. But is part of the story the candidate wants voters to weigh.

“I wanted to be authentic. I wanted to show my work,” Kidman said.

And out there on the campaign trail, when Kidman hopes to talk about everything from health care to criminal justice reform, the candidate expects to get questions about what some might see an odd background for a senator.

And that will be fine, Kidman said, because it is part of the way to show that everybody matters and that every path can, perhaps, lead to one of the nation’s highest public offices.

If it all goes well, Kidman aims to be become “the first openly nonbinary/queer senator,” and maybe bring a little glitter to the U.S. Capitol.

Bre Kidman (Photo provided)