Metro Weekly

Alabama Pastor Kills Himself After Trans Alter Ego Revealed

An Alabama pastor and mayor committed suicide after a conservative blog outed his online transgender alter ego.

F.L. “Bubba” Copeland – Photo: Facebook

An Alabama pastor committed suicide last Friday after a conservative blog published a story alleging he wore women’s clothing as a “hobby.”

According to 1819 News, F.L. “Bubba” Copeland, the mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama, and the pastor at First Baptist Church in Phenix City, apparently cultivated an online persona named “Brittini Blaire Summerlin,” who referred to herself as a “Transitioning Transgender Curvy Girl.”

As Summerlin, Copeland frequently posted to Reddit and had a private Instagram page, where he encouraged people to follow him. He regularly commented on other posts, and encouraged trans-identifying individuals to pursue hormone therapy.

1819 News claims Copeland posted pictures of himself in female clothing, even one time wearing an outfit that his wife had previously worn, as well as photos in lingerie, and links to transgender pornography with vivid captions describing being a “whore” and getting “fucked.”

The blog also alleges Copeland authored transgender fiction and erotica online.

When 1819 News approached him for comment, Copeland reportedly admitted to running the Brittini Blaire Summerlin social media accounts, saying his wife was aware of his activity, but nobody else was.

He reportedly claimed that dressing up as a woman had been a “hobby” since youth and served as a way to release anxiety, but denied actually identifying as transgender.

“It’s a hobby I do to relieve stress,” he is quoted as saying.  “I have a lot of stress, and I’m not medically transitioning. It’s just a bit of a character I’m playing. I don’t go out and seek solicitation or anything like that. I have not done anything outside of my own home besides post or publish anything on the internet, and that does not affect anything with inside my jurisdiction.”

He asked the blog not to publish the story about his social media accounts and later deleted all the Summerlin accounts. 

Copeland told the blog he believed his activity was “not relevant” to his position as mayor or as a pastor, referring to dressing up as Brittini as akin to “cosplay.”

“What I do in private life has nothing to do with what I do in my holy life,” Copeland said. “Does this have any effect on me being mayor, that I sometimes put on a dress or sometimes put on makeup? Does that have anything to do whatsoever with me being mayor or being a pastor?”

“I’ve been the object of an Internet attack,” he said to his First Baptist congregation during a sermon on Wednesday that was livestreamed on Facebook. He reportedly said he had taken pictures with his wife “in the privacy of our home” and apologized for “any embarrassment” caused.

On Friday, during a welfare check, Copeland shot himself in front of police, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, reports HuffPost.

The church posted on Facebook, thanking people for their prayers for Copeland and his family.

“We ask that you keep Pastor Bubba Copeland’s family in your prayers today, and in the days ahead,” the post reads.

Copeland was best known for leading his town through the recovery following a tornado that killed 23 people in eastern Alabama in 2019.

Former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) remembered Copeland’s advocacy on behalf of the town, recalling how he had connected Copeland with then-President Donald Trump, who was touring the region to survey the damage from the tornado, to plead with for federal assistance.  He called Copeland a “good man and a great mayor.”

Jones criticized 1819 News for its coverage, saying the blog’s treatment of Copeland was “sad and disgusting.”

“We live in a mean, bitter world where the self-righteous tend to throw the largest stones, Jones lamented. 

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

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 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!