Oklahoma’s first-ever gay mayor has resigned from office due to repeated threats and harassment that have made him feel unsafe in his own town.
Adam Graham, who describes himself as Oklahoma’s “youngest city official in The Village, Oklahoma,” officially resigned from his position on Tuesday, citing an intense atmosphere of hostility from some of his fellow residents.
Graham claims he has been “followed home from meetings” of the city council, had his tires slashed, threatened while walking his dog, and even harassed at a local coffee shop.
“Unfortunately, these malicious bad-faith attacks are escalating and I no longer feel safe to serve in my capacity as mayor,” he wrote in a statement on Twitter. “It’s with a heavy-heart that I tender my resignation effective immediately.”
Bruce Stone, the city manager of The Village, said that if the city council does not appoint a mayor before the new term begins next May, it could be short one member for a year.
According to NBC News, Graham had entered office with the intent of shaking things up, promoting “new ideas” that sought to alter the political status quo. He suggested banning conversion therapy within the city’s borders, establishing a new park, and increasing public transportation options.
Graham noted in his resignation letter that another contributing factor in his decision to leave office was a conflict between Graham and police officers from the nearby Nichols Hills Police Department over whether police had the right to pull over residents of The Village.
During a traffic stop, Graham confronted the officers and told them to “get out” of the city — sparking a conflict with the police chief of Nichols Hills, who cited mutual aid agreements between the two cities as justification for the traffic stops and blasted Graham, garnering him even more bad press.
In a follow-up statement explaining his resignation, Graham said he loved his job as a city councilor and mayor.
“It was a pleasure and a privilege serving my community and working alongside my constituents. Plus, I felt good at the work — like it was what I was intended to do,” he said. “But when the social media attacks began and some bigoted elements of the community felt emboldened to use homophobic slurs, threats and violence against me, I felt legitimately scared for my life. It wasn’t safe for me to shop, drive or walk the dog in the community I was elected to serve. This emboldened hostility must be stopped.”
Prior to his resignation, Graham had been one of only six out LGBTQ elected officials in the state.
The media advocacy organization GLAAD and LGBTQ Victory Institute, an organization advocating for LGBTQ representation in public office, both leapt to Graham’s defense.
“All over the country we’re seeing a disturbing rise in anti-LGBTQ bias and harassment directed toward LGBTQ people and families and our allies,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, said in a statement. “Teachers, librarians, school board members, and other public servants have become targets for violence fueled by anti-LGBTQ rhetoric spread by elected officials and blasted across social media and right-wing media.”
Ellis said social media and tech platforms must do more to counter misinformation and combat anti-LGBTQ harassment, and called for legislation guaranteeing federal protections for LGBTQ Americans.
“Bigoted leaders across the country are stoking the flames of anti-LGBTQ hate that have cascading — and dangerous — consequences for GBTQ elected officials who are on the front lines defending our rights and freedoms,” Elliot Imse, the executive director of the LGBTQ Victory Institute.
“We are devastated and angry that Mayor Graham faced harassment and physical threats to the point he will no longer serve in public office,” Imse added. “No elected leader should ever fear for their physical safety, yet the threats are growing for LGBTQ people, people of color and other marginalized people — and the consequences for our democracy are enormous. It is our responsibility to come together as a community and support LGBTQ leaders during this dark time, ensuring they are able to safely serve the communities they love.”
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!