Following on from my article on female mayors in March I bring a look at members of the lgbt community who have held mayoral office. We begin with a small group who have held the office of Lord Mayor.
Let’s being, though, with
a definition of a Lord Mayor. The office is most associated with the UK. Towns
with mayors may receive letters patent from the sovereign granting or
confirming the status of Lord Mayor onto the town mayor. This usually happens
when the town is simultaneously elevated to city status. Even though cities
existed before 1893 by being the seat of a bishopric, only London and York had
Lords Mayor before that year.
The title of Lord does not
give them a place in the House of Lords. “Lord” is a term used to signify special
recognition from the Crown (as also in Lord Lieutenant and Lord Justice) and
indicates the office not the person. As such, any female holder of the office
is also called Lord Mayor, not Lady Mayor or Lady Mayoress (which is a
traditional courtesy title given to the wife of a mayor). Lords Mayor are civic
heads of their city, the “Chief Citizen”, and not the head of the governing
city council (usually titled the Leader of the Council) though are selected by
their council from one of their elected members.
By the way, the Lord Mayor
of London and the Mayor of London are two different titles. The Lord Mayor is
the civic head of the old City of London, and the Mayor is the elected
political head of the larger Greater London area covering many towns, cities
and boroughs of which the City of London is just one part.
Now that we’ve got that
out of the way lets turn to the lgbt Lords Mayor themselves. The illustration
below shows you their locations. All of them in England were entitled to use
the coat of arms of their city during their term of office. In Australia,
Wollongong has no coat of arms, and in Melbourne the named office holder was
Deputy Lord Mayor and not entitled to use the city arms.
Here is a list of the
Lords Mayor in chronological order:
– Wollongong, Australia, 1991-9.
– Westminster, UK, 1996-7.
– Melbourne (Deputy), Australia, 2004-6.
– Kingston-upon-Hull, UK, 2011-12.
– Nottingham, UK, 2012-12.
– Liverpool, UK, 2013-14.
– Manchester, UK, 2016-17.
Immediately, it is clear
that all of them are male. There has not yet been any female Lords Mayor from
the lgbt community to my knowledge. All of the men listed, with the exception
of Robert Davis in 1997, were openly gay before they took office.
Robert Davis came out in
2007 when he and his partner announced their Civil Partnership. Here is another
example of the confusion that can arise with the London mayors. Robert and his
partner Simon Milton (d.2011) were publicly elected Westminster city
councillors. The council appointed Robert Lord Mayor of Westminster in 1996. In
2008 Simon (by now Sir Simon) was appointed Deputy Mayor of London, the larger
London that covers many boroughs as well as the cities of London and
Confusing? It is to a lot of Londoners as well! Having said that, Robert and
Sir Simon are the only lgbt couple who have both held mayoral office, though
Of the other Lords Mayor
on the list I have mentioned Leon Unzcur several times on my blog before,
mainly because he was also the first openly gay Sheriff of Nottingham and
because I know him quite well. Unfortunately he has suffering from parkinson’s
disease and I don’t see him around very often.
Perhaps the most
surprising connection is the appointment of Carl Austin-Behan. He has been a
Manchester city councillor since 2011, but his earlier claim to fame was as Mr.
Gay UK 2001. His term of office as Lord Mayor ends officially in the next few
In the next Chain Male
article I look at the international mayors (mayors in the USA will be looked at
later in the year).