A Republican Mississippi mayor came out as gay Thursday after an expense receipt he filed was revealed to have come from a gay adult products store in Canada.
Greg Davis, mayor of Southaven, held a news conference in his home to "discuss the struggles that I've had over the last few years when I came to the realization that I am gay."
The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn., first identified the $67 receipt from Priape, a self-described "gay lifestyle store and sex shop," as part of its investigation of about $170,000 worth of questionable expenses that might lead to criminal charges against Davis. The newspaper posted audio of his coming-out statement on its website.
"At this point in my life and in my career, while I have tried to maintain separation between my personal and public life, it is obvious that that no longer can remain the case," Davis said. "While I have performed my job as mayor, in my opinion, as a very conservative, progressive individual — while I am and still continue to be a very conservative individual — I think that it is important that I discuss the struggles that I've had over the last few years when I came to the realization that I am gay.
"While I think this has had no impact on my performance as mayor, nor will it, I felt that it was time to let everyone know about that situation versus the rumor mill that have been circulating over the last two years.
"It has been a very tough decision for me to make; however, my family has supported me through this throughout the years and accepts it, and I hope that those that are out there will see that it does not affect my job performance or my past performance and that they will accept that fact, and that the community as a whole will allow me to let this part of my life be entitled to privacy as we move forward in promoting our city in the way we have over the last few years."
Davis ran for Congress in 2008 reportedly as a "family values" candidate for the Republicans in Mississippi's first congressional district, and high-profile social conservatives such as former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee campaigned on his behalf. Davis got the most attention when tried to tie his Democratic opponent, Travis Childers, to Barack Obama and his comment on rural people "clinging" to guns and religion.
Still, Davis lost to Childers in a special election for the seat and then also in a general election. Davis has been mayor of Southaven, the state's third largest city, since 1997.