Following the death of Smiths Station Mayor F.L. Bubba Copeland last week the Lee County Democratic Party released a statement expressing their sadness for his passing and condemning the hateful targeting of his private life.
On Friday, Copeland took his own life two days after he was outed by 1819 News for cross-dressing in his private life while on online platforms.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Mayor Bubba Copeland, who has been a pillar of the community for years in various roles. We ask a lot out of our public officials and elected leaders, and often, they fall short as they are, like all of us, human beings. However, Mayor Copeland was the backbone of Smiths Station. His heart for service shined through in all he did. This was exemplified during the dual crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the deadly 2019 tornado when he provided countless people with hope and support. Additionally, we condemn, in the strongest terms, the use of discriminatory and hateful rhetoric to target the personal lives of individuals- be they public or private citizens. The practice of demonizing each because of personal life choices must end because it has very real and life- altering consequences. This is especially true in our community, as we have seen an alarming rise in suicides. We must endeavor to, in all things, be decent human beings who treat one another with dignity and respect regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We, as Democrats, will continue to fight for a world in which everyone feels comfortable living their authentic selves. Mayor Bubba Copeland, above everything else, was a decent human being. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
NPR published an article following Copeland’s suicide and spoke to a professor who has researched the history and consequences of outing individuals. Gary Hicks, a Southern Illinois University Edwardsville communications professor, said he can not think of a good reason to publicly out a person for cross-dressing and that it is extremely harmful.
“I cannot find a good reason to out a person in a story,” Hicks told NPR. “You do not know what the ramifications are going to be.”
Copeland was a Republican, however, since his death the Alabama Republican Party has not publicly commented on the mayor’s untimely passing. The Alabama Democratic Party made a post on X, stating that 1819 News bares culpability in Copeland’s death.
“It’s an absolute tragedy that a person simply being themselves was made to feel so ashamed and hopeless that they believe the only solution to their public humiliation is suicide. You own this @1819News.”