First non-binary mayor ‘of any city, anywhere’ receives so much hate they’ve ‘become used to it’

Former Plaid Cymru candidate Owen Hurcum

Owen Hurcum, the new non-binary mayor of Bangor, Wales, experiences so much online abuse that they have “become used to it”.

The 23-year-old, who is Wales’ youngest mayor as well as the “first-ever openly non-binary mayor of any city anywhere”, receives a torrent of online abuse because of their gender identity.

“It has been difficult and it does get disheartening but strangely, not that it is ever OK, I have almost become used to it in a way,” Hurcum told BBC Wales.

Owen Hurcum was the first non-binary candidate for Plaid Cymru in May’s Welsh Parliament elections, but stood down after accusing the party of “[continuing] to platform those who promote transphobia”.

But after their election as mayor, Hurcum said the council had been “fantastic” and thanked their fellow councillors for being supportive about the online abuse – singling out the former mayor, who had reached out to Hurcum when he’d seen them receive “online hate”.

There was a trepidation [when I ran for mayor] because, obviously, local government has this unfair reputation of possibly being old and backwards, and I was worried that those views may come from fellow councillors,” Hurcum said.

“But I have had the exact opposite. Every single councillor has been extremely supportive, and the previous mayor has called me when he has seen that I have been getting hate online, and he has said he is there if I need him. It has been really nice.”

Despite being “difficult” and “disheartening”, Owen Hurcum said they found the stupidity of some of the abuse they received funny.

“They may say I have low testosterone or I am effeminate or I look like a woman,” they explained.

“I am like, ‘Oh my God, you are trying to insult me by calling me feminine? Even though I am explicitly telling you that I have feminine traits that I want to celebrate because I am non-binary?’

“As I said, there is a fantastic team of councillors and friends who support me through that, and if I get hate comments, it is worth it when I get all the nice comments as well, or know that I have helped one individual person feel more comfortable in their own skin.”