An Alabama mayor who committed suicide after it was revealed he had an alter ego with a “transgender curvy girl” previously led a suicide prevention campaign after the loss of a local teenager.
Fred ‘Bubba’ Copeland, 49, died by suicide last Friday after images of him dressed in women’s clothing, wigs and make-up were shared online, amid claims he also posted ‘explicit trans porn’.
Before his death, he was mayor of Smiths Station and pastor in Phoenix City.
In 2019, from his role as a pillar of the community, he launched a campaign to help those struggling following the suicide of a local teenager.
He posted signs that read, “You are worthy of love,” “Don’t give up,” and “You matter.”
Alabama mayor and pastor Fred “Bubba” Copeland worked on a suicide prevention campaign in his local community for a few years before committing suicide after images of him dressed as a woman were revealed
Copeland died by suicide last Friday amid ridicule about his “hobby” of dressing up in women’s clothing as alter ego “Brittini Blaire Summerlin”
The pastor had secret social media accounts where he reportedly shared erotic trans fiction he had written and memes about transitioning, featuring real people from his community. The mayor said his wife was aware of his online persona
But just a few years later, the preacher would ultimately die in a similar manner, after his secret personality ‘Brittini Blaire Summerlin’ was revealed to the world by the right-wing website 1819.
The married father of three shot himself in the head in front of police on the side of the road after they were called for a welfare check.
Copeland owned a small grocery store and was a pastor at First Baptist Church, where a sign told passersby: “Jesus loves you.” All are welcome.’
His public presence on social media detailed baptisms, family gatherings, homecoming parades and sales at his country store.
State Rep. Jeremy Gray, a lawmaker from nearby Opelika, said Copeland was a “steadfast presence” after a tornado devastated rural parts of the county in 2019, killing more than two dozen people. Copeland was photographed with then-President Donald Trump as he toured the area.
But his online life became public on November 1 when 1819 posted the first of several items describing posts he had made under an alias on Instagram and Reddit as a “transgender curvy girl” with photos of him wearing women’s clothing and makeup.
After the revelation, the State Baptist organization said it was aware of allegations of “unbiblical behavior” involving the pastor.
A national radio program also said Copeland should be ashamed because the Bible teaches that it is an “abomination” for a man to dress in women’s clothing.
The father-of-three said he had experienced “dark times” in messages to friends just days before his suicide
The 49-year-old had previously apologized to his congregation at First Baptist Church in Phoenix City for any “embarrassment” caused by his private life
Copeland was also accused of using the names and photos of local residents, including a minor, without permission in messages, including the real name of a local businesswoman in a fictional story about a man who develops a deadly obsession with her identity to take.
Another claim was that Copeland’s secret social media accounts also shared images of a local brother and sister that were used to make it appear as if the boy had transitioned.
Copeland told the news site that he wore women’s clothing as a way to release stress, but that he was not transgender.
He stood before his congregation on November 1 to apologize, saying the photos taken in the privacy of his own home were an attempt at humor.
But just days later, the beloved pastor was dead.
“I want to ask you people who found it humorous to publicly ridicule him. Are you happy now? What crime has he committed?’ Larry DiChiara, a former school superintendent who knew Copeland from when he served on a district school board, wrote in a pointed Facebook post.
Chiara revealed that Copeland had been struggling in the days leading up to his death.
DiChiara said he contacted Copeland by text last Thursday and the mayor responded that “it’s been a very dark few days.”
Copeland’s private online life became public in early November when the outlet published the first of several items detailing posts he made using an alias on Instagram and Reddit
The married mayor and grocery store owner shot himself in the head after making fun of his character on social media
“When this story came out, it was already painful and hurtful to see it and know that this will cause a lot of sadness for Bubba and his family. But as I read what was out there, it got worse and worse, and I really saw ugliness in the people and their comments,” DiChiara said.
Jack Drescher, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and author of “Psychoanalytic Therapy and the Gay Man,” said an outing can be an act of violence and that in this case it “triggers a violent response.”
Drescher said people may have reasons to keep sexual or gender identities and behaviors, such as cross-dressing, secret because they don’t feel accepted.
“It was probably a great source of shame and embarrassment to come out this way,” Drescher said.