The first openly gay mayor of a small town in Oklahoma resigned on Monday, saying in a letter that he’s increasingly become the target of threats recently.
Adam Graham, who was elected mayor in May and described himself as the youngest city official in The Village, Oklahoma, wrote to the city manager that over the past month, he has been “followed home from meetings” and threatened while walking his dog. He also said that his tires had been slashed and that he was harassed at a coffee shop.
“Unfortunately, these malicious bad-faith attacks are escalating and I no longer feel safe to serve in my capacity as mayor,” he wrote. “It’s with a heavy-heart that I tender my resignation effective immediately.”
Bruce Stone, the city manager, confirmed Graham’s resignation in an email to NBC News. Stone said if the City Council does not appoint a mayor before the new term begins next May, it could be short a member for a year.
Graham has lived in The Village, a town of about 9,200 near Oklahoma City, for eight years. A Democrat, he previously served as vice mayor for two years, and before that, as a city councilmember. After being elected mayor, he said he hoped to ban conversion therapy within city limits, among other priorities, such as establishing a new park and bringing public transportation to the community.
Graham’s resignation comes two months after he had a tense exchange with two police officers from the neighboring town of Nichols Hills. Bodycam footage of the May 28 incident provided to NBC News by the Nichols Hills Police Department shows the officers pulling over a vehicle — which had allegedly been speeding in Nichols Hills — within the city limits of The Village. The footage then shows Graham pulling alongside the police cruiser.
The officers then alleged, in a letter sent to their police chief following the incident, that Graham told them to "get out," saying they can't pull over cars in his town. Graham, however, denies making this remark to the officers and says the letter misrepresents the incident.
Cox told NBC News that his officers were within their rights to pull over the vehicle, because Nichols Hills has mutual aid agreements with the fire and police departments in The Village and Oklahoma City.
In his resignation letter, Graham mentioned the May 28 incident and said he “stood up against Nichols Hills targeting The Village residents.”
Cox and Matt Butcher, a captain with The Village Police Department, said they were unaware of any recent official reports of threats or harassment against Graham, but Butcher said he would “take those reports seriously.”
Albert Fuji, a spokesperson for the LGBTQ Victory Institute, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of LGBTQ elected officials across the U.S., called Graham a “fierce LGBTQ leader in Oklahoma, fighting for LGBTQ rights, racial equity and reproductive justice.”
“We are devastated — and angry — that he faced harassment and threats to the point he no longer feels safe serving in public office,” Fujii said in an email. “No public official should fear for their physical safety. The reality is that many LGBTQ elected officials and elected officials of color are facing the brunt of this increased animus.”
Graham was just one of six out LGBTQ elected officials in Oklahoma and the state’s only gay mayor, according to the LGBTQ Victory Institute’s Out for America report.