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Reports: Drag Performer Brings Down Homophobic UK Mayor

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Jul 6, 2018
Tess Tickle
Tess Tickle  

Richard Smith, the recently-elected mayor of Ferryhill, a small English town in Country Durham, resigned in the face of allegations he had posted anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim content on his Facebook page. Tess Tickle, a drag performer who hails from Ferryhill, was instrumental in spurring calls for him to step down, reported the BBC.

UK newspaper The Independent reported that Ms. Tickle kickstarted the controversy with a June 23 post that read, "Waking up to messages that the New Mayor of Ferryhill my HOME TOWN is sharing homophobic statuses, protest videos of gay pride etc!"

Various media outlets, including the BBC, detailed postings that Smith allegedly shared on his Facebook page. One was a cartoon labeled "Where we'll end up" that depicts a bald, mustachioed man urinating from a standing position into a toilet situated, without a stall, in the middle of a women's restroom while a young girl and her mother look on. In the cartoon, the man calls the girl a "little bigot," while the mother cautions the child, "Shhhhh... we arent [sic] allowed to speak the truth any more..."

Another post reportedly shared by Smith was a 2014 article penned by a Minneapolis pastor in 2014 titled "Why Homosexuality Is Not Like Other Sins."

Other postings purportedly shared by Smith at his Facebook page were anti-Islamic in nature and slammed marriage equality, reported UK newspaper The Northern Echo, which also reported that Smith is a minister at Immanuel Christian Fellowship church in Ferryhill.

Smith told the media that it "was absolutely not my intention" to offend anyone, and said, "I won't apologize for the conviction of my faith," the BBC reported.

"As a Christian and a minister of the church, anyone regardless of faith, culture, gender or sexuality is welcome to my support," Smith said.

"This is what we have to fight against," Ms. Tickle said. "That's why you've got people like us shouting from the rooftops saying we do deserve the same rights and equality and we're just the same as you are."

Smith stepped down as mayor this week and painted himself a victim of religious intolerance, calling it "a matter of sincere regret to me that those personal views have been so tragically and outrageously twisted... in order to discredit both myself and my faith."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. 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.


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