An Alabama community is in shock after the tragic death of a local leader following their involuntary outing as a transgender woman when a local conservative news blog posted photos of them embracing their secret gender identity. Smiths Station Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland, who also served as the pastor of First Baptist Church in Phenix City, was found dead Friday evening, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones confirmed to Columbus, Ga., CBS affiliate WRBL. “I can confirm he took his own life,” Jones said. Besides his political and religious affiliations, Copeland, 49, was known locally for owning a small grocery store in the Alabama backwaters. Recent scrutiny emerged when Alabama news blog 1819 News reported Wednesday that Copeland had been engaging in explicit online activities, allegedly posting pornography, memes, and photos of themself in women’s clothing online under the pseudonym “Brittini Blaire Summerlin.” The report shared screenshots from Copeland’s now-deleted Instagram and Reddit accounts, where the mayor openly explored their transgender identity. Copeland also reportedly shared transgender-specific fiction and erotica that they authored, according to published reports. Copeland discussed hormone replacement therapy in some of their online posts. The Advocate honors people’s chosen names and pronouns. Because Copeland did not publicly come out before their death, The Advocate is referring to them as the person they presented publicly. The revelation quickly spiraled into a community-wide controversy, eliciting many empathetic and derogatory reactions. One of Copeland’s friends, former Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara, expressed his anguish and support for Copeland on social media after the mayor’s death. In a Facebook post, DiChiara wrote, “Please bare with me while I vent. I am so angry right now and heartbroken. I witnessed a good man be publicly ridiculed and crucified over the last few days…to the point that he just took his own life today.” He revealed that he had reached out to Copeland offering “support and encouragement,” and Copeland had acknowledged going through some “dark days.” In a pointed message to those who ridiculed Copeland, DiChiara asked, “Are you happy now? What crime did he commit? Some of you people make me sick. I hope you are really proud.” He ended his post with a prayer for Copeland: “For our brother, F.L. Bubba Copeland, May God bless your soul and forgive those who took pleasure in your suffering. They should all be ashamed!”

via advocate: Alabama Mayor, Pastor Dies by Suicide After Being Involuntarily Outed as Transgender Woman

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