An Alabama mayor and pastor has committed suicide in front of police officers after photos of him in drag were published online.
An article about Smiths Station Mayor and First Baptist Church of Phenix City pastor Bubba Copeland dressing as a woman was published on 1819 News on November 1. His suicide was confirmed by police two days later.
The report had detailed how Copeland was posting as a “transgender woman” online under the pseudonym “Brittini Blaire Summerlin.”
“In the social media posts, Copeland can be seen wearing several articles of his wife’s clothing, as shown by her social media,” the report explained. “Additionally, Copeland regularly commented on other posts, referring to himself as a ‘thick transgender woman’ and encouraging other transgender individuals to go on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Copeland also posted transgender pornography, often giving vivid captions describing being a ‘whore’ and getting ‘f****d.’”
Copeland was also posting photos in women’s underwear and writing transgender erotica.
When confronted by the outlet, Copeland confirmed the accounts were his and asked that they not be published due to his family and life in the church. He claimed that it was just a “hobby” and a means of coping with stress. However, the report noted that he was offering advice to people about chemical transitions on social media.
“Just my wife knows about it,” Copeland said. “It’s a hobby I do to relieve stress. I have a lot of stress, and I’m not medically transitioning. It’s just a bit of a character I’m playing. … I don’t go out and seek solicitation or anything like that.”
Copeland added, “It’s something that I don’t intermingle with the other. It’s private. I don’t do it in the public or anything like that. … It’s just a fictional character I made up to relieve stress.”
“What I do in private life has nothing to do with what I do in my holy life,” Copeland continued. “Does this have any effect on me being mayor, that I sometimes put on a dress or sometimes put on makeup? Does that have anything to do whatsoever with me being mayor or being a pastor?”
On the day the report was released, Copeland told the Alabama Baptist that he was the target of an internet attack.
“I’ve been an object of an internet attack in an article that was written [regarding] my capacity as a mayor and my capacity as a pastor,” he said. “The article is not who or what I am. Yes, I have taken pictures with my wife in the privacy of our home in an attempt at humor because I know I’m not a handsome man or a beautiful woman either.
“I apologize for any embarrassment caused by my private and personal life that has become public. This will not cause my life to change. This will not waiver my devotion to my family, serving my city, serving my church,” Copeland continued. “I’m thankful for the grace of God and willingness to forgive. I have nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of things that were said were taken out of context. I love my family. They are number one.”
On November 3, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones confirmed that Copeland had died.
Copeland’s church had issued a statement saying, “We have become aware of the alleged unbiblical behavior related to the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Phenix City. We are praying for the leaders of the church family as they seek to determine the truth concerning these accusations. As the people of God, we pray for the pastor and his family as well. We are in consultation with the Russell Baptist Association’s leadership as they endeavor to assist the First Baptist family during this critical time of need.”
Local station WTVM reports:
According to the sheriff’s office, around 4:15 p.m. CT, deputies received information regarding the mayor needing a possible welfare check. Deputies found Copeland in the Beulah community area, where a slow pursuit began.
Officials say the mayor turned onto Lee Road 275 north of Yarbroughs Crossroads and pulled over. When he exited his vehicle, he produced a handgun and used it to take his own life.
Copeland had addressed the controversy during Wednesday night’s worship service.