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Gay Texas Councilman Ousted After Being Blackmailed with Grindr Nudes

Gay Texas Councilman Ousted After Being Blackmailed with Grindr Nudes

Gay Texas Councilman Ousted After Being Blackmailed with Grindr Nudes

Cross Coburn was recalled in the Nov. 6 midterms after an anonymous package of nude photos was sent to City Hall and local news media.

While many celebrated the "rainbow wave" of LGBT politicians elected in the November 6 midterms, not all queer lawmakers were victorious. Cross Coburn, a 19-year-old gay man who was elected as a councilman in Groves, Texas last year, was ousted from office this month after being blackmailed with his nude Grindr photos earlier this year. A recall election took place on the 6th, and 2,400 of Grove's 16,000 citizens -- around 62% of voters -- felt Coburn should be removed from office.

In 2017, Coburn ran unopposed, but in early 2018 Groves' City Hall received an anonymous package full of nude photos the councilman had sent on Grindr, which were then sent to local news channels. The "scandal" resulted in a petition to have Coburn removed from office, claiming he couldn't live up to the city's "moral standards."

"I regret that it got out, but I will never regret being human," Coburn told the New York Times, arguing that "consensual conversations" on Grindr has nothing to do with his duties as a councilman. Coburn alleges that he was he was set up and blackmailed over Grindr and that signatures on the petition to remove him were forged. He also claims that Groves Mayor Brad Bailey and Councilman Kyle Hollier were behind the recall vote that claimed his job. When asked about the photo scandal in September, Bailey said that he believes public servants should be "held to a higher position" and that Coburn's "track record speaks for itself."

According to Coburn, Bailey repeatedly asked him to resign after receiving the photos anonymously, but he refused. Instead he apologized, something he now regrets. "It was on a private dating app," he said. "I really don't have anything to apologize for. But I was apologizing that it was brought up in the first place."

Texas Monthly suggested that Coburn was a victim of catfishing in an effort to remove him from office, as the photos were sent to local media after the city attorney mentioned in an internal email that only the citizens could remove Coburn in a recall election.

Coburn is now challenging the recall and has filed a complaint in the District Court of Jefferson County, claiming that the petition to remove him was was forged. He's also asked the state attorney to investigate. While another politician in his place would admit defeat, Coburn instead has been inspired to fight harder than ever, saying the recall "has given me a sense of duty."

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