Town’s first openly gay mayor resigns after harassment, abuse and threats from residents
The first openly gay mayor of a small Oklahoma town has been forced to resign after just two months, after facing “harassment” and “threats” from local residents.
Adam Graham was elected in 2019 to the city council of The Village in Oklahoma, which has a population of a little more than 9,000 people. This year, at 29-years-old, he became the city’s youngest and first openly gay mayor.
Graham took up the role in May, but just two months later, on Monday (18 July), he handed in his resignation.
In a letter to city manager Bruce Stone, Graham wrote: “For almost five years, I’ve proudly served The Village as councilmember and mayor.
“It’s been an honour to serve and it’s been my great privilege to break boundaries as The Village’s youngest and first openly gay elected official… Since 2018, I’ve fought against ageism, racism and homophobia at every step.”
When he was elected, Graham said, he felt “proud that The Village was ready for a young voice and for new ideas”.
But he soon realised that as a gay Democrat mayor in an extremely Republican state like Oklahoma, he was facing increasing hostility.
For almost five years, I've proudly served The Village as Councilmember and Mayor. It's been an honor to serve and it's been my great privilege to break boundaries. I no longer feel safe to serve in my capacity here. It's with a heavy-heart that I tender my resignation. pic.twitter.com/w5AheQOlYL
— Adam Graham (@adamjacobgraham) July 18, 2022
“Unfortunately, certain elements of the population have recently become emboldened to pursue threats and attacks bordering on violence,” he wrote.
“In the last month, I’ve been followed home from meetings, threatened while walking my dog, harassed at Starbucks and have had my tires slashed.”
Graham said the attacks had started after an incident with police officers from the neighbouring Nichols Hills. According to local media, Graham and the officers got into a verbal altercation when a traffic stop was conducted inside The Village city limits.
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He continued: “Unfortunately, these malicious, bad-faith attacks are escalating and I no longer feel safe to serve in my capacity as mayor.
“It’s with a heavy heart than I tender my resignation effective immediately.”
Albert Fuji, spokesperson for the LGBTQ Victory Institute, told NBC News that Graham was a “fierce LGBTQ leader in Oklahoma, fighting for LGBTQ rights, racial equity and reproductive justice” in a state that, after his resignation, has just five openly LGBTQ+ elected officials.
Fuji added: “We are devastated — and angry — that he faced harassment and threats to the point he no longer feels safe serving in public office.
“No public official should fear for their physical safety. The reality is that many LGBTQ+ elected officials and elected officials of color are facing the brunt of this increased animus.”