LIVERPUDLIAN David Burton-Sampson has spoken of his enormous pride at being a gay, black man who has made it to being mayor of Basildon.

The Labour councillor told how he feels a real sense of achievement and hopes to be a role model to those within the LGBT+ community.

He said: “I am absolutely honoured to be in this position.

“That’s both from a personal point of view and I know and recognise the significance of a gay, black man being in this role.

“I hope I serve as an example to other members of the LGBT+ community, those of different colours, creeds and religions, whatever your intersections if you focus, work hard and put your mind to it, anything is possible.

“I have made Basildon my home for the last 18 years.

“Being black and being gay have created issues for me during my life from the racial bullying I received at school when I was younger to the struggle to be accepted as a gay man and even to an extent the struggle to accept myself.

“Add to that I was a mixed race kid, from a working class background, with a white mother and a black father who was absent for most of my upbringing living in a predominantly white area of Liverpool.

“In fact for many years I was the only non white skinned person in my school.”

Mr Burton-Sampson says becoming mayor of Basildon has given him the ultimate feeling of acceptance within society.

He continued: “I always say I dream of a time when it doesn’t matter who you are, what the colour of your skin is, how you identify or who you love, that you are just accepted for being you.

“I know we are some way off that.

“However we chip away at it all the time.

“For me this is the closest I could dream of getting to that point of acceptance.

“I received a message from a school friend from Liverpool on the night of my election victory.

“They said, I think it may be possible that you may be the first black person from Liverpool to have been made a mayor of somewhere in the UK since 1913 a great achievement.

“The last was John Archer who became Mayor of Battersea in November 1913.

“This makes me incredibly proud and something I never could have dreamt of achieving when I was that young boy back at school.”

“He said to me it is not just about being gay, it is about being representative of our society that we live in.”

Mr Burton-Sampson said it is important to work towards ensuring that our councillors and our other elected officials truly reflect the communities we serve.

Mark Flewitt, deputy mayor of Southend, who is also openly gay spoke of the significance of this appoinmtment too.

He said: “At a time of political turbulence, a first citizen needs to show calm and show civic leadership.

“So young or older people of all kinds need to see their cultures represented by a mayoralty within their town or city. I believe it would send a very positive message, that opinions can be different but mayoral robes and chains are symbols relevant to all.”