If elected president, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg would be the first homosexual to sit in the Oval Office. That doesn’t appear likely at this juncture. The natural presumption is that mainstream America is not ready for a gay president. But according to an an eye-opening article in The Atlantic (h/t Dean Garrison, DC Clothesline), many LGBTQ voters refuse to get behind Buttigieg (no pun intended) as well.
Why? Because Mayor Pete comes off as “too straight” to qualify as the first openly gay president. Sure, he’s willing to kiss his husband in public, but his mouth is closed. (I don’t know if LGBTQs have noticed but most married candidates avoid giving their spouses sloppy wet kisses while on the campaign trail.)
A much bigger problem — and one that has led to the creation of a #PetesNotGay hashtag on Twitter — is Buttigieg’s open confession at a town hall about wrestling with his homosexuality when he was younger:
I was wrestling with this well into my 20s. If there was a pill, a pill that I could take and not be gay anymore, then I would’ve jumped on it. And thank God I didn’t. Because then I would not have the amazing marriage that I have now to Chasten [his husband, who was in the audience].
The fact that he ultimately came to accept his sexuality is not good enough for the gay community or the article’s author, Spencer Kornhaber, who interprets Chasten’s reaction as a “slight, pitying smile.” Kornhaber continues:
The clip of that meant-to-be-humanizing moment quickly became the object of mockery in queer circles online. Some users LOLed at Chasten’s reaction, interpreting him as showing embarrassment rather than empathy. Others acted as though Buttigieg were articulating a self-hating desire to become straight now, at 38, rather than describing how he felt in his closeted earlier years. Twitter critics called his words “the most evil sh*t” and “vile,” and said his comments were “absolutely going to do damage” to thousands of “vulnerable LGBTQ youth.”
It’s attitudes like these that create a barrier to the acceptance the gay community craves from the majority of Americans, who hold traditional values. Playing up their differences with flamboyant demonstrations is a stumbling block — not a pathway — to the equality they insist they are being denied.