Reports: Out Mayor Dies by Apparent Suicide

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday January 28, 2022

According to news reports, Kevin Ward, the openly gay mayor of Hyattsville, Maryland, died by an apparent suicide on Jan. 25.

Ward was "the first African-American man to serve in that position," local newspaper the Hyattsville Wire said.

"Ward, who was elected in May after serving as interim mayor and two-term city council member, was a longtime advocate for making the city more welcoming, promoting measures such as allowing non-citizens to vote in municipal elections, designating Hyattsville as a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants and renaming the city's largest park after the late African-American artist David Driskell," the Wire recounted.

The city announced the tragedy the following day in a statement that said Ward, 44, had died "of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound," the New York Daily News reported.

Ward's body was found in a park, according to the Washington Post, which went on to relay that the mayor's "death prompted an outpouring of grief on social media from his colleagues and lawmakers across the state, who described the mayor as a dedicated public servant who deeply loved the city of Hyattsville."

"Mayor Ward was a valued and trusted leader and a fierce advocate for all the people of Hyattsville," said the statement from the city. "We are heartbroken at this loss and extend our deepest sympathy to the Mayor's family."

News accounts recalled that Ward, together with his husband and two adopted sons, moved to Hyattsville in 2014.

"I am a pretty straightforward person. I believe in listening more than talking," a message from Ward on his campaign website told visitors, news reports said. "But when I talk, I am not one to mince words or tell people what they want to hear."

Fellow out mayor Patrick Wojahn of College Park, Maryland, cited Ward's "great sense of humor," the Daily News said, and called him "insightful, smart and dedicated."

"City officials said that 'details about services and remembrances will be shared when they are available,'" the Daily News added.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.