A small city in Wales has elected a nonbinary, genderqueer local university graduate as mayor. Owen Hurcum, 23, was first elected to be mayor of Bangor in Gwynedd, North Wales, last year when they were 22, making them the youngest, as well as the first transgender nonbinary mayor in the country's history. Due to social distancing restrictions, Hurcum was only recently officially sworn into office.
"I came here as a student five years ago, just because it was a place to study and it looked quite nice," Hurcum told North Wales Live. "Within a week, I fell in love with it and tried to throw myself into the city's culture."
\u201cWhen I came out two years ago I was so worried I'd be ostracized by my community or worse. Today my community elected me Mayor of our great City. The youngest ever Mayor in Wales. The first ever openly Non-Binary Mayor of any city anywhere. Beyond humbled, Diolch Bangor \ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\ud83c\udf08\u201d
Hurcum initially thought they were the first nonbinary mayor not just in Wales but anywhere in the world. However, that honor appears to go to Tony Briffa who served as the Mayor of the City of Hobsons Bay, Victoria between 2010 and 2012. Briffa is both intersex and nonbinary.
A familiar face in the community, Hurcum has been involved in many protests over the years.
"I've been involved in a lot of different protests and rallies over the years," Hurcum told North Wales Live. "I've always considered it as an act of defiance - the system might change, but it won't change me."
Although they had been a councilor for five years, they said they were initially hesitant about taking such a public government due to their gender identity, but soon learned they had nothing to fear.
"There was a trepidation because, obviously, local government has this unfair reputation of possibly being old and backwards, and I was worried that those views may come from fellow councilors," Hurcum told BBC Radio Wales, but they instead found "exact opposite. Every single councilor has been extremely supportive, and the previous mayor has called me when he has seen that I have been getting hate online, and he has said he is there if I need him. It has been really nice."
Hurcum admitted they've received some hate mail from bigoted folks, but they have learned to turn the tables on those voices.
"I am like, 'oh my God, you are trying to insult me by calling me feminine, even though I am explicitly telling you that I have feminine traits, that I want to celebrate because I am nonbinary?'" they explained to the BBC.
But they noted that no matter the hate they receive, they have the full support "a fantastic team of councilors and friends" in Bangor.