The Welsh town of Bangor formally seated 23-year-old Owen Hurcum as the world’s first out non-binary mayor on Monday, marking an internationally historic moment for non-binary people and communities.
“When I came out two years ago I was so worried I’d be ostracized by my community or worse. Today my community elected me Mayor of our great City. The youngest ever Mayor in Wales. The first ever openly Non-Binary Mayor of any city anywhere. Beyond humbled, Diolch Bangor,” Hurcum said Monday in a tweet accompanied by a photo of them wearing a traditional mayoral chain.
Though they have only lived in Bangor for five years, Hurcum, who identifies as genderqueer and agender, fell in love with the town and quickly jumped into its political scene. Hurcum was elected to their new position unanimously by the Bangor City Council last year after one year as the town’s deputy mayor. They served as a city councilor for four years prior to becoming deputy mayor.
“It is an enormous privilege to have been elected by my fellow City Council members to the office of Mayor of Bangor,” Hurcum told NBC News. “I don’t take this lightly and I will work as hard as I can in the role to give back everything to the City that has given me so much. I might only be 23 but I have a wealth of experience at local government and a fantastic team behind me so I know we are set up to face the challenges ahead.”
Much of Hurcum’s stated goals for their stint as mayor focus on making the Welsh town a destination for others and “celebrate the multi-cultural community that makes our city the greatness that it is.” But they also have made sure to provide a voice to trans, non-binary and other LGBTQ communities through their political representation.
Between their election as mayor and being seated this week, Hurcum launched a a run for Senedd, the Welsh Parliament, representing the Plaid Cymru party. But Hulcum withdrew from the race and the Plaid Cymru party in March, saying they “cannot in good conscious stand for a party that continues to platform those who promote transphobia.”
“I had hoped to remain and use my limited influence as Plaid’s only openly trans Senedd candidate to force the Party to tackle this matter head on,” Hurcum said in a statement. “I will always hold my principles above my party and, as stated, the hope and faith I had in Plaid changing for the better before the Senedd elections of this year have now been irreparably broken.”
That message and demand for equity and understanding is central to their upcoming book, Don’t Ask About My Genitals. The book posits itself as an introduction to the non-binary community wanting to learn more about it and “commentary on our lived experiences in a binary world.” Hurcum also tells their own story in the book as a wya to speak to “young genderqueer and non-binary people who might otherwise think they are all alone.” Don’t Ask Me About My Genitals is slated for an April 2022 release.
“The city means a lot to me and I feel so privileged that I have been entrusted to represent my community on a national and international stage,” Hurcum told North Wales Live. “Bangor has a lot to offer and I hope I can do a good job of showing and embracing that.”
Hurcum joins Oklahoma state Rep. Mauree Turner, the first out non-binary person ever elected to a U.S. state House, as the only known out non-binary persons to hold political office. Turner was elected to the Oklahoma state House of Representatives in 2020.