Tragic Loss: Alabama Mayor and Pastor Takes Own Life Following Involuntary Disclosure of Transgender Identity

Tragic Loss: Alabama Mayor and Pastor Takes Own Life Following Involuntary Disclosure of Transgender Identity

Smiths Station Mayor F.L. ‘Bubba’ Copeland, a respected leader in an Alabama community, tragically took his own life after being involuntarily outed as a transgender woman. The revelation came after a conservative news blog posted photos of Copeland embracing his secret gender identity. Copeland, who also served as a pastor and owned a small grocery store in the area, was found dead on Friday evening.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones confirmed the suicide, stating, “I can confirm he took his own life.” The controversy surrounding Copeland began when a local news blog reported that he had been engaging in explicit online activities, including posting pornography, memes, and photos of himself in women’s clothing under the pseudonym “Brittini Blaire Summerlin.”

Screenshots from Copeland’s now-deleted Instagram and Reddit accounts revealed his exploration of his transgender identity. He also shared transgender-specific fiction and erotica that he had authored. Despite not publicly coming out before his death, The Advocate, a reputable news outlet, respects people’s chosen names and pronouns and refers to Copeland as the person he presented publicly.

The revelation sparked a community-wide controversy, with both empathetic and derogatory reactions. Copeland’s friend, former Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara, expressed his anger and heartbreak on social media, emphasizing the public ridicule and crucifixion Copeland endured before taking his own life. DiChiara had reached out to Copeland offering support, and Copeland had acknowledged going through some dark days.

DiChiara condemned those who ridiculed Copeland, asking, “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’s soul and forgiveness for those who took pleasure in his suffering.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Lee County District Attorney’s Office are currently investigating Copeland’s death. The situation took a tragic turn when deputies attempted to conduct a welfare check on Copeland. Upon spotting him driving his truck near his grocery store, Copeland stopped, exited his vehicle, and fatally shot himself.

This distressing incident sheds light on the societal pressures and harsh judgments that individuals may face when their private lives, particularly regarding sexual orientation or gender identity, are involuntarily exposed to the public, especially in conservative communities.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there are resources available to help. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 is available for people of all ages and identities. Trans Lifeline, specifically designed for transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals, can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The Trevor Project Lifeline provides support for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger) and can be reached at (866) 488-7386. Chat services are also available at or by texting START to 678678.