Britain’s Youngest Mayor is a Gay Man

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday May 31, 2010

The youngest mayor in Britain is only 23--and he's a gay man. Perhaps more surprisingly, the nomination of openly gay Ian Campbell to the office of mayor of Retford, England--a former mining town--came from the local council, which is dominated by conservatives.

Though Campbell had been tossed out of his parents' home when he came out as gay, his sexual orientation was not an issue when it came to his election as a district councilor, reported UK newspaper The Guardian in a May 26 article. Said Campbell, "It is an ex-mining town and people's views are anti-gay but things are changing."

After he was tossed out by his family, Campbell went to work as a GLBT equality and safe schools advocate, and his trajectory took him right to his current position.

Openly gay and lesbian political leaders have become more commonplace in recent years. The mayor of France, Bertrand Delanoë, came out in 1998--but that didn't stop him from being elected to the office of mayor in 2001. That same year, Klaus Wowereit, the openly gay mayor of Berlin, assumed office.

Last fall, Annise Parker made headlines as the first openly lesbian mayor of Houston, Texas. Parker joined the ranks of openly gay American mayors, including Sam Adams, the mayor of Portland, Oregon, Mark Kleinschmidt of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and David Cicilline, the openly gay mayor of Providence, Rhode Island.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, was an early leader in having a gay mayor, with the 1993 election of Kenneth Reeves, who went on to serve three terms. Earlier this month, Joe Mosca also joined those ranks upon being elected mayor of Sierra Madre, California; in March, openly gay Craig Lowe won the mayor's office in Gainesville, Florida, despite repeated anti-gay leafleting campaigns that targeted him with various homophobic smears.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.