Brittini Summerlin did not appear at the First Baptist Church of Phenix City on Wednesday night.
While appearing in traditional male clothing, Smiths Station Mayor F.L. "Bubba" Copeland delivered the regular Wednesday night service and emphatically declared he had "nothing to be ashamed of" in his first public reaction since a report revealed he regularly posted graphic content online.
Earlier, 1819 News reported how Copeland, as his alter ego, a transgender woman by the name of Brittini Blaire Summerlin, publicly posted transgender pornography, graphic memes and explicit photos of himself in women's clothes.
Wednesday night, Copeland spoke to his congregation during the evening service, publicly addressing the 1819 News report before delivering a brief sermonette.
"I have been an object of an internet attack," Copeland said. "An article that was written about my capacity as the mayor [and] capacity as a pastor. The article is not who or what I am."
He downplayed the content he posted, calling it an "attempt of humor."
"Yes, I have taken pictures with my wife in the privacy of our home in an attempt of humor because I know I'm not a handsome man nor a beautiful woman either," Copeland continued. "I apologize for any embarrassment caused by my private, personal life that has come publicly."
Copeland's social media accounts included several explicit pictures and other media, including a link to his now-deleted Instagram account, where he encouraged people to contact him to "chat."
He presented himself as a "transgender curvy girl" and commented often about his medical transition from male to female. Additionally, he engaged with several Reddit users, encouraging them to go on transgender hormone replacement.
In addition to the pictures of him in women's underwear and clothing, Copeland's page also included several memes with transgender and heterosexual pornography.
In one post, Copeland added the caption, "Do what you have to do to get f****d," and "Once you've been mounted properly there is no going back."
Warning: Pornographic images have been blacked out, but the captions are still explicit.
Copeland also shared a meme featuring a local brother and sister, one of which is a minor, with the caption, "Take the shots, get implants, become the whore."
After the father of the two children contacted 1819 News, the picture was removed to protect their privacy.
Copeland concluded his brief church speech by saying he was unapologetic and accused 1819 News' quotes of being taken out of context.
"This will not cause my life to change. This will not waver my devotion to my family, to serving my city, [and] to serving my church. I'm thankful for the grace of God [and] the willingness to forgive. I have nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of the things that were said were taken out of context. And in conclusion, I love my family; they're number one. And again, I'm sorry for what my actions have caused."
1819 News spoke at length with Copeland before publishing. In those phone calls, he admitted to operating the pages and posting the pictures. He referred to the persona as a "fantasy," and a way to "relieve stress." He also sent numerous desperate text messages to 1819 News staff, asking for the story not to be published.
"What I do in private life has nothing to do with what I do in my holy life," Copeland told 1819 News.
He continued, "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?"
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