Vicco mayor featured on ‘Colbert Report’ was subject of Kernel story in 2008

By Will Wright | @KyKernel

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The recently featured the openly gay mayor of the small Eastern Kentucky town called Vicco, who was the subject of a Kentucky Kernel project five years ago.

Mayor Johnny Cummings was the latest subject in the Comedy Central segment titled “People Who Are Destroying America” last Wednesday. The episode focused on a fairness ordinance the town passed in January, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. Vicco became the smallest town in the United States to pass such an ordinance, which protects people from being refused service, terminated from their job and evicted from their home because of sexual preference.

“Mayor Cummings is using his office to implement the gay agenda,” Colbert said in the episode. He continues sarcastically saying, Cummings is “ruining all of our classic (gay) stereotypes.”

Vicco residents were interviewed about the mayor and the ordinance.

“Today it’s Vicco, but what if gay tolerance spreads to the rest of small town America?” Colbert asked in the episode.

In 2008, Cummings was also featured in a Kentucky Kernel project by Kristin Sherrard.

Sherrard, a former Kernel staffer, spent time with Cummings when he was the subject of her a project she created at Picture Kentucky, a photojournalism workshop. Sherrard was able to spend a few days with Cummings and created a audio slideshow.

She said he was a great person to do a story on.

“He was fantastic to work with,” she said. “He was really kind and generous.”

After watching the episode, Sherrard said Cummings’ personality was reflected well in Colbert’s piece. But she hopes the residents who were interviewed on the episode understood the satirical nature of the show and do not feel like they were being laughed at.

In the Kernel photo story, Cummings said the residents of Vicco were accepting of his sexual preference.

“We’ve been very well accepted,” he said.