From pulling pints to working as the first ever openly non-binary mayor

The New Normal guest Owen Hurcum, non-binary mayor
Owen Hurcum is the youngest mayor in Welsh history

Owen Hurcum is not your usual mayor. They took on the role last year at the age of 23, making them the youngest mayor in Welsh history. In addition, Owen is the first ever openly non-binary person to become mayor. And their bold green hairstyle also makes them stand out among the councillors.

In the latest episode of The New Normal with Adrian Masters, the Bangor Mayor told Adrian why they wanted to take on the role, what they have achieved so far and what they plan to do next.

Working as the Mayor of Bangor is an unpaid job so Owen earns money by pulling pints alongside their mayoral duties.

"It's quite strange... I'll be halfway through pulling a pint of Guinness, for example, and then somebody will just recognise me and say, 'aren't you the mayor? What are you doing here?'"

Owen moved to Bangor to attend university and reconnect with their Welsh roots. They said when they first started university they knew they were LGBTQ+ but had not yet come out as non-binary.

"I was still having thoughts about gender stuff and I didn't really know because I hadn't really met anyone who was non-binary to my knowledge. But I knew I had a queer sexuality.

"So I came to Bangor and I was able to, from day one, pretty much celebrate that... Through talking to the LGBTQ community here and meeting more non-binary people and hearing their stories, I was like, 'oh my word, this explains everything about me. This is exactly who I am.'"

Owen then started using the pronouns they/them. Their definition of non-binary is "it simply means not to be a man and not to be a woman."

They said, "I was born non-binary, people thousands of years ago would have been born non-binary. But it is a new term and it can mean different things to different people within that community."

Owen Hurcum uses the pronouns they/them Credit: Owen Hurcum

On the podcast, Owen said part of the reason they dye their hair is because they feel more "obviously non-binary in presentation".

"It just makes me feel more me and I don't know how to explain it better than that... I feel more obviously non binary in presentation when I don't have my natural hair colour.

"Obviously other people will have different ways of expressing their identity and their gender. But for me, dying my hair plays into that. I like people to look at me and go, 'this person probably is LGBTQ'.

"I like people to be able to single me out and say 'maybe they're one of them.' And I'm like, 'yeah, I am one of them and it's really cool.'"

Listen to The New Normal with Adrian Masters:

Owen said there is still "a lot of hostility and confusion" in regards to trans and non-binary people.

"Some of that is open, wilful bigotry. And some of that is from ignorance that leads to bigotry.

"We have to fight and we have to challenge that.

"But there is the acceptance and there are the support networks as well. I like to say it's getting better.

"Peter Tatchell, as he succinctly put it, said 'trans rights are now where gay rights were 40 years ago'. I feel like that's quite an apt metaphor. And hopefully in a lot sooner than 40 years we'll all be accepted."

Owen said politics has always been "a big thing for me and my family".

"My granddad was a Labour Party councillor back in the 1970s. And my family has always been proud of that and there's left-wing politics both on my mum and dad's side. So I grew up very politically active and astute."

As mayor, Owen said they want to continue what their predecessor started during the pandemic in regards to giving out free food to the people of Bangor, with no questions asked, if they are struggling.

They have put in a City of Culture bid, applied for various grants and appointed a new full time city director. They said they hope to get the market back and also to put Bangor more firmly "on the map" and "be a part of advertising what a great city we are."

Owen plans to run for city council again to continue the work that they have started along with the group of councillors.

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