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Guy Padgett

Guy Padgett


In 2004 the city council of Casper, Wyo.--Matthew Shepard's hometown--unanimously elected their first openly gay mayor.

Guy Padgett, who at 27 was also the town's youngest mayor ever, says he "never wanted my sexuality to be the focal point. It's part of who I am. If anybody had doubts at the beginning of the year, by the end they were convinced that sexuality was not a characteristic that inhibits being a good public servant or a facilitator to a council of nine people."

Nonetheless, Padgett is well aware of the significance of sexuality. He and Matthew Shepard were friends in junior high school, and the two had reconnected shortly before Shepard's death in 1998.

"We would go out to coffee," remembers Padgett. "He would tell me these fantastic stories about Switzerland and Saudi Arabia; I was always a little bit jealous, honestly. I regret we didn't have more time."

Wyoming entered the spotlight again in late 2005 with the release of Brokeback Mountain, and Padgett became a go-to gay for the media.

"A lot of times, the press would come to me for my opinion," says Padgett, adding that as mayor he had to weigh in on a lot more than a gay cowboy film. "I'd get all sorts of calls on all sorts of issues, from barking dogs to potholes. The interest in me as a gay man has come from outside the community rather than within."

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