Sandwell in West Midlands to appoint second gay mayor in successive years

Catherine Muxworthy May 8, 2023

Sandwell in the West Midlands will become the first council in the country to appoint a second successive LGBTQ+ mayor with Langley Councillor Bill Gavan taking over from Councillor Richard Jones. The outgoing mayor, Richard Jones – who used his term to raise awareness and money for LGBTQ+ issues – was deselected by Labour before the election, and stood unsuccessfully for the Liberal Democrats in Old Warley. The controlling Labour group has now chosen Councillor Gavan to be the borough’s mayor.

Councillor Gavan is the former owner of Subway City dance club in Birmingham and Gavans, a gay nightclub that was formerly located in Wolverhampton. He was also part of the small committee formed in November 1996 which fundraised for the entirely community-funded Birmingham Pride held in 1997.

Of his mayoral appointment, Councillor Gavan said: “It’s like London buses, Sandwell residents wait decades for a gay mayor and then two come along at once.

“I’m pretty sure we are the first council to have two gay mayors in succession. I was the first openly gay councillor in Sandwell, I help found Birmingham Pride and have always fought for LGBTQ+ rights.

“I’ve gone from pavement to being mayor and this shows the great work Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous has done for me and so many others, I still attend meetings and want everyone to know what great work AA and NA do.

“To be elected to be mayor by my fellow councillors was a great honour, I never thought when I got into politics this could happen to me but am delighted everything I stand for has been recognised.”