Pastor FL ‘Bubba’ Copeland faced ‘dark days’ before suicide after trans alter ego exposed

The late Mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama, F.L. ''Bubba'' Copeland
The late Mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama, F.L. ''Bubba'' Copeland | YouTube/East Alabama Chamber of Commerce

F.L. "Bubba" Copeland, the late mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama, and pastor of the First Baptist Church of Phenix City, faced some “dark days” before fatally shooting himself in the wake of withering backlash over his secret online alter ego known as the "transgender curvy girl” outed by a local publication, friends say.

"After watching for a day or two people just relentlessly attacking Bubba [online], I was quite bothered by it, and I just decided to reach out to him," former Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara told NBC News Monday.

"It was the day before he passed away. I said: 'Bubba, keep your head up. You’re a good man with a great heart. Don’t ever forget that. Call me if you need me.' And his response was: 'Thank you. It’s been some dark days.' And I said: 'I’m sure; just hang there. It will pass.'"

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In a report published last Wednesday, 1819 News, a news website launched by conservative think tank, Alabama Policy Institute, highlighted photos from several social media accounts operated by Copeland, including on Reddit, where he presented himself as a trans under the pseudonym Brittini Blaire Summerlin.

The late married 49-year-old father is pictured wearing makeup, a blonde wig, and even some of his wife's clothes. Using the Summerlin persona, the Baptist pastor regularly commented on posts saying he was a "thick transgender woman." The account is documented sharing self-authored trans fiction and erotica as well as trans pornography.

Copeland was also accused of encouraging other trans-identified individuals to go on opposite-sex hormones. 

Mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama, F.L. ''Bubba'' Copeland, who also serves as pastor of First Baptist Church of Phenix City, reportedly has a transgender persona named Brittini Blaire Summerlin.
Mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama, F.L. ''Bubba'' Copeland, who also serves as pastor of First Baptist Church of Phenix City, reportedly has a transgender persona named Brittini Blaire Summerlin. | YouTube/Beam 7; Screenshot/Reddit

Ansley Summerlin, a Florida hairstylist who knew Copeland when she lived in Alabama, told NBC News that she found pictures of herself taken from her social media accounts and allegedly posted to Reddit by Copeland.

"I will say this has caused me a lot of anxiety and panic attacks," she told the news outlet. "There’s just so many emotions that come with this. After reading those stories, with the names of girls I know, it’s all very disturbing."

Summerlin further told WTVM that her name and photos were also posted on pornography websites without her permission.

“I had some people start sending me photos that were posted of me on multiple porn sites, I guess you could say, that also had pictures of Brittini, as well. He proceeded to use my first and middle name on these sites, and I believe there are about nine sites now that I have about 5 or 6 photos of my face and my name across the internet,” she said.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones, who was a friend of Copeland’s, told WTVM that the allegations are being investigated.

“We’re going through our standard process in that investigation. We will gather all the facts available and evidence that we have. That will be presented to the District Attorney and a Lee County Grand Jury will review all the details of this investigation at a future date,” he said.

Ahead of a public visitation for Copeland on Wednesday at Vance Brooks Funeral Home in Phenix City and a funeral to be held Thursday at First Baptist Church of Phenix City at 3 p.m. Eastern time, Jones also revealed to NBC News that he was among those who reached out to the pastor prior to his suicide.

"It was a friend calling a friend," Jones said. "Let's just say he was concerned about the article. I think 'upset' would be a good way of putting it."

DiChiara blamed Copeland's death on the people who criticized him for his secret life and revealed that his family is struggling.

"Some people are just heartless even in the man’s death," he said. "His son is really having a hard time with it. His teenage son is taking it pretty tough."

In a message to his congregation shortly before his death, Copeland said people took a lot about his alter ego out of context.

"Congregation, church, Facebook, I have been an object of an internet attack. An article that was written about my capacity as a mayor, capacity as a pastor," Copeland said.

"The article is not who or what I am. Yes, I have taken pictures with my wife in the privacy of our home on an attempt of humor because I know I'm not a handsome man, nor a beautiful woman either. I apologize for any embarrassment caused by my private personal life that has gone publicly," he said.

"This will not cause my life to change. This will not waver my devotion to my family, to serving my city, serving my church. I'm thankful for the grace of God's willingness to forgive. I have nothing to be ashamed of," he said defiantly. "A lot of things that were said were taken out of context."

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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