Alabama mayor and pastor dies after trans online persona outed by conservatives
FL ‘Bubba’ Copeland has died by suicide after the Alabama mayor’s trans online persona was involuntarily outed by a conservative news blog.
Copeland – who was the mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama and pastor at First Baptist Church in Phenix City – died in front of police officers who were performing a welfare check in the early evening on Friday (3 November), Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones told local news outlet WRBL.
Beyond being a local political and religious leader, Copeland also owned a small grocery store, was married and had three children, according to AL.com.
The tragic news came just days after details about Copeland’s private life were exposed by the conservative blog 1819 News, which was once owned by the right-wing Alabama Policy Institute.
The post, published Wednesday (1 November), reported that Copeland had been posting pictures in women’s clothing online under the pseudonym “Brittini Blaire Summerlin”.
The article alleged Copeland posted trans-specific fiction and erotica that the mayor had authored, and discussed transitioning in other posts.
After being approached by 1819 News, Copeland deleted the accounts and asked that their content not be made public. The mayor called the posts a “hobby” to get “rid of stress”, but the conservative blog pressed ahead and published the article about the trans online persona.
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After the article was published, Copeland took to the pulpit at First Baptist Church and described the story as an “internet attack” and that the article is “not who or what I am”, AL.com reported.
“I apologise for any embarrassment caused by my private and personal life that has become public,” Copeland said.
“This will not cause my life to change. This will not waiver my devotion to my family, serving my city, serving my church.”
Jeff Poor, editor-in-chief of 1819 News, didn’t comment on the criticism to AL.com but sent condolences to Copeland’s loved ones.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Smiths Station, the parishioners of First Baptist Church of Phenix City and the victims and family of Mayor Copeland,” Poor said.
Phenix City School superintendent Larry DiChiara said in a statement on Facebook that he was “so angry right now” and “heartbroken” at his friend’s death.
DiChiara said he witnessed Copeland be “publicly ridiculed and crucified over the last few days”, adding his friend was “suffering” and going through some “dark days” as a result.
“I just want to ask you people who thought it humorous to publicly ridicule [Copeland], ‘Are you happy now?’” DiChiara wrote. “What crime did [Copeland] commit?”
Former US senator Doug Jones described Copeland as a good person in a lengthy tribute on X, the platform once known as Twitter. Jones said his “friend” was a “great mayor who led” Smith Station “through the tough times of a devastating tornado a few years ago”.
He added he was “sad and disgusted” to hear how Copeland was treated by Alabama news blog 1819 News.
PinkNews has approached 1819 News for comment.
Readers affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans free on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.
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