The End of The Affair

J. W. Lown was a popular, twice-reelected mayor with a bright political future—until he was forced to choose between his two passions: his city and his lover.

When San Angelo mayor J. W. Lown, age 32, abruptly left office in mid-May, no-showing the swearing-in ceremony for his fourth term and announcing a day later that he had left Texas to be with a lover in Mexico, the easy first comparison was to King Edward VIII. Of course, the Depression-era scandal involving the eventual Duke of Windsor—he gave up England’s throne after falling for a then-married, already once-divorced American socialite—has long seemed like a relic of its time. Lown’s situation offered a significant update: His paramour was a man. And the man happened to be a twenty-year-old college student from Mexico who was living in the U.S. illegally. News outlets around the world, most of which first learned there even was a San Angelo during last year’s FLDS scandal, quickly took note of this latest incident of West Texas quirk. The New Zealand Herald picked up the story from England’s Observer and gave it the headline “Gay Mayor’s Illicit Love Is Talk of Conservative Texas.” Jay Leno cracked that the mayor should have known something was amiss when he picked up his boyfriend for dates “and the guy would jump in the trunk.”

But a funny thing was happening on the way to the News

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