Bangor elects 'youngest and first ever' non-binary mayor

  • Video report by ITV Wales journalist Ian Lang

A 23-year-old has been elected the youngest mayor in Welsh history and the first openly non-binary mayor of any city.

Owen Hurcum said they were "beyond humbled" to be voted in by Bangor City Council following this year's elections.

The independent candidate, who identifies as agender, tweeted: "When I came out two years ago I was so worried I'd be ostracised 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."

Owen was worried about being accepted as non-binary, because some people are still unsure what it means. It's a subject they are keen to raise awareness and understanding of.

They told ITV News: "When you're non-binary and this isn't something that isn't really in the public discourse, you not only have to explain who you are, but you have to explain your entire identity to people. And there's a worry that they just won't get it.

"Because for some people, the idea that you can not be a man and not be a woman is impossible. How can you not be either? And I'm like, 'Well I'm just not - that's just who I am. I mean, I don't know how I can explain it'. And then you get people saying, 'Oh, but that shouldn't exist'. I'm like - 'I'm existing right in front of you'."

Since their appointment as mayor, Owen has had great support from Bangor City Council.

"They've been fantastic allies through it all," they said.

"Recently when I was getting hate comments because I'm non-binary, the first person to offer his support was the previous mayor, John Wyn Williams.

"I'm probably one of his first exposures to this identity, but he was willing to learn, willing to correct himself, and was offering his unconditional support. And that just meant a lot."

  • Mayor Owen Hurcum: 'It's hard to come out... acceptance isn't a guarantee'

Owen has also seen an outpouring of support from the community.

They said: "I just want to say a huge diolch to all the lovely messages that are still coming in.

"I know representation is not just putting on the chain and I'll be judged by what we do as a team for Bangor during my year in office, but still, I'm glad my election has resonated with so many."

Of their plans for Bangor, Owen said: "I'm very keen to continue the scheme that was pioneered by the former mayor, John Wyn Williams, of providing free food for the citizens of Bangor during the pandemic and during tough times.

"I'm very keen to explore novel and new ways of celebrating the culture of Bangor - we're well-known for our peacocks, for example - I want to do something with that.

"But what I can do personally is use this position to be a PR vessel for Bangor. And it seems to be working - people want to talk to me!

"But I want to talk about Bangor, and that's what I'm going to be doing. If I can get Bangor in the news and get people talking about Bangor, it'll get people wanting to visit; it'll get people wanting to invest."