The mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama, F.L. “Bubba” Copeland, died by suicide after photos of him allegedly wearing women’s clothes were published on a conservative news site. Copeland was also a pastor at First Baptist Church in nearby Phenix City.
The disclosure bombarded Copeland, 49, with online ridicule and his death, experts said, underscores the dangers of outing people in an era that has seen the erosion of LGBTQ+ rights as states across the country introduce legislation based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
According to NBC Bay Area Trending APEC, Copeland was bombarded by online ridicule after the conservative news site exposed photos where he appeared in women’s clothes, a wig, and makeup. Copeland’s friends said they hope it prompts a wave of self-examination about how we treat others. “I just want to ask you people who thought it humorous to publicly ridicule him. Are you happy now? What crime did he commit?”
Larry DiChiara, a former school superintendent who knew Copeland from when he served on a county school board, wrote in a pointed Facebook post.
The state Baptist organization said it was aware of allegations of “unbiblical behavior” involving the pastor after the disclosure. A nationally syndicated radio show said Copeland should be ashamed because the Bible teaches that it is an “abomination” for a man to dress in women’s clothing.
After the 2019 suicide of a local teenager, Copeland helped students place roadside signs in his Alabama community to try to reach others who might be hurting. “You are worthy of love.” “Don’t give up.” “You matter.” Those were the same messages friends said they tried to get through to Copeland before he took his own life along one of those county roads.
The death of F.L. “Bubba” Copeland, the mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama, highlights the dangers of outing people in an era that has seen the erosion of LGBTQ+ rights as states across the country introduce legislation based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Copeland’s death has prompted a wave of self-examination about how we treat others. It is important to remember that everyone deserves respect and dignity, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
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