politician has come out--but this time under
better circumstances than those of disgraced
congressman Mark Foley.
While Foley was
forced out of the closet because of a scandal involving
underage male pages, J.P. Sasser, mayor of tiny,
conservative Pahokee, proudly admits his sexual
orientation. In a Sunday story in the Fort
Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper, Sasser
said his orientation hasn't been an issue during his last
three terms as mayor. "I am not a gay mayor," he told
the Sun-Sentinel. "I am a mayor who is
Sassar, who has
been with his partner for 15 years, claims he's not
a gay activist but will stand up against homophobes: "If I
am somewhere and I hear someone say a negative remark
or go on a little tirade, then I will identify
population 6,500, is near Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach
County. It's a town where the number of people living below
the poverty level is three times the national average.
"I have more
pressing issues [than gay issues]," Sassar told the
Sun-Sentinel. "I have people who have to choose
between eating or taking their medicine."
orientation has long been known, and yet he is a
popular mayor of Pahokee, a town more reflective of
the South than South Florida.
"I can guarantee
you, the people who voted for him knew that he's gay,"
Jim Sheehan, an employee of Everglades Adventures, told the
Sun-Sentinel. "I don't hear, 'J.P. is the gay
mayor.' I hear, 'J.P. is the best mayor Pahokee's ever
had,' even by some of his detractors."
The only other
gay mayors in Florida are in Key Biscayne and North Miami.