Showing posts with label Gay Politician. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Politician. Show all posts

February 10, 2020

Christian Media Reports on Pete Buttigieg and His Husband with a Touching Picture

Last night after Pete Buttigieg appeared in a townhall televised by CNN, his husband, Chasten, tweeted out a photo of Pete putting his head on Chasten’s shoulder.
In the tweet, Chasten Buttigieg said: “I couldn’t do this without you by my side too, P. In this together, and I am so proud of you. #CNNTownHall.
At the CNN townhall, Buttigieg had pointed out his husband Chasten sitting in the audience. He did so while talking about the cause of what he called “LGBTQ equality.”

“Here I am, now finding that that very same fact that I thought might prevent me from having an impact in the world—at least a certain kind of impact in certain kind of way—is actually very much part of the impact I get to have now,” said Buttigieg.
“I mean, I’m not running to be the gay president of the United States, I’m running to be a president for everybody,” he said.
“But, talk about God having a sense of humor. And so, my hope is that, because I know right now there are so many especially young people who question whether they fit—in their own family, in their community, as they come to terms with who they are,” he said.
“And we got a long way to go when it comes to LGBTQ equality right now,” he said. “But, I think the fact that I’m standing here, the fact that my husband’s in the audience watching right now is just an amazing example of that belief that, yes, yes, you belong, and this county has a place for you.”

February 4, 2020

This is How Pete Buttigieg Earn His Support in an Formerly Anti Gay Iowa

Pete Buttigieg doesn’t often remind people that he’s running a historic presidential campaign. The 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has emphasized an easy-to-like persona: a nice-guy Midwesterner with middle-of-the-road policies and a bit of Obama-style hope-and-change rhetoric. As he campaigns across Iowa ahead of Monday’s caucuses, he doesn’t make much of the fact that he’s the first openly gay candidate with a serious chance of being the nominee of a major political party.

Mayor Pete’s sexuality isn’t a primary point of conversation in the 2020 race is a remarkable testament to how much LGBTQ rights have progressed over the past decade. And it’s even more striking in Iowa, where Buttigieg has centered his campaign on winning smaller, rural counties, places that just a decade ago were the epicenter of anti-LGBTQ sentiment in the state. 

In April 2009, six years before same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in favor of it. The case, Varnum v. Brien, made Iowa the first state outside the liberal coastal enclaves to legalize gay marriage. Only Massachusetts and Connecticut had marriage equality at that time. (California had briefly legalized gay marriage thanks to a court ruling before voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2008 banning it.) While it might have seemed out of step for Iowa to be at the forefront of the issue, as I wrote for the American Prospect in 2011: “The state also has a history of extending civil rights earlier than the federal government. In 1839, the Iowa Supreme Court’s first opinion granted citizenship to a slave when he entered the territory from Illinois. Iowa had desegregated its schools by 1868; a year later, it became the first state to admit women to the bar.”

Beyond checking off another state for activists, Iowa represented something different from the previous victories, a test case for how marriage equality might be accepted in the more rural parts of the country.

It didn’t go well at first. In Iowa, state Supreme Court judges are subject to judicial “retention” elections, a yes-or-no vote on whether a judge should keep their seat on the bench. Prior to Varnum, these had been staid elections. Judges didn’t run any sort of political campaigns to keep their jobs, and in the five decades, the system had been in place only four judges, each accused of malfeasance at work, had lost a vote. But three months before Election Day 2010, Bob Vander Plaats, a leading figure of the state’s evangelical right, launched a campaign on the steps of the state capitol, pushing voters to say no to three of the Supreme Court judges up for retention that year thanks to their vote on Varnum. Vander Plaats’ efforts were boosted by a string of right-wing national groups—the American Family Association, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Family Research Council—with nearly $1 million spent to fund TV ads and a bus tour for the sort of race that typically had zero dollars in campaign cash. Each of the three Varnum judges lost. 

“He’s getting support in the areas where we lost the worst on marriage.”
Buttigieg doesn’t ignore Varnum, but he doesn’t spend much time at his events dwelling on the trailblazing aspect of his campaign. On a Thursday morning rally in Decorah, a small town in the upper northeast corner of the state, he didn’t make any reference to his sexuality until the last minute of his prepared remarks. When I saw him at his next event 60 miles south in Independence, he excised that aspect as intro instead using it as his closing note at the end of the Q&A portion. 

In both instances, he spun out that detail in the same fashion: “Iowa has this beautiful capacity for showing what can be done for people who aren’t quite sure,” he said in Decorah. “I was a volunteer—first time I ever came through Iowa, the first time I set foot in this state, they sent me to Creston as a volunteer on the Obama campaign in 2008. And I was here in Iowa when this state changed what the country and world thought was possible in American presidential politics. And then, about a decade ago, I wasn’t here to see it, but I was watching from where I lived when this state gave me permission to believe that someone like me could be wearing this wedding ring that I’ve got on right now.”

If you’d asked political analysts five years ago if an openly gay candidate could capture a swell of support in Iowa, that wouldn’t have been unimaginable. But they likely would have assumed that said the candidate had gained momentum through anchoring support in the state’s cities, the places already more friendly to same-sex couples before Varnum came around.

But if Buttigieg ends up winning Iowa, it’ll be thanks to places like Decorah and Independence. While Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have worked to rev up voters in the state’s cities and suburbs, Mayor Pete’s closing push has been all about the rural eastern part of the state, places that flipped from Obama to Trump. That’s the case for both Winneshiek County—home of Decorah—which went for Obama by 23 percent in 2008 but which Trump won narrowly in 2016, and Buchanan County—home of Independence—which was +18 percent for Obama in ’08 before Trump won by 15 points. Buttigieg’s campaign boasts that the large audiences he is turning out draw from some of the same crowd who voted for Trump four years ago. “I am meeting so many of what I like to call future-former-Republicans, who are determined to replace this president,” Buttigieg said in Decorah. “And they are more than welcome to this movement that we built.”

“He’s getting support in the areas where we lost the worst on marriage,” says Troy Price, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, who I first met back in 2011 when he was in charge of One Iowa, the state LGBTQ rights group that had helped spearhead the lawsuit that legalized marriage. “It’s the suburban areas, it’s the rural areas, that’s where he’s doing really well.” 

Back in 2012, after a month of crisscrossing the state to track the Republicans challenging Barack Obama, I stuck around after the caucuses to try to answer a question: In the three years since Varnum, how had legal same-sex marriage changed perceptions in small-town Iowa? Whether same-sex marriage could garner mainstream support at the time was still an open dispute. Barack Obama had so far stayed silent on the issue, and no state had legalized marriage through a popular vote (though both of those facts would change by the end of that year).

I traveled to Clayton County, which went heavily against the three judges in 2010, voting them out by double-digit margins. The county seat, Elkader, with a population of just over 1,200 people, draws tourist traffic during the spring and summer. There is little change in gradient to most of Iowa’s landscape except for the northeastern corner Elkader occupies, one of the few spots in this part of the Midwest that the ice age glaciers supposedly bypassed. Elkader is particularly scenic, lying in the base of a valley surrounded by Iowa’s best approximation of mountains. If you drew a line between Decorah and Independence, Elkader would be just a little east of the exact midpoint.

In Elkader, I met two men in their 80s who had moved to the town before the court decision but married shortly after Varnum. They told me they hadn’t encountered much backlash, and continued on with their lives, still volunteering at the small local museum with no trouble. “You can do the same thing in a big city, but that’s because in a big city you’re anonymous,” one of them told me. 

“Well, nobody is anonymous here, and that’s what makes it very gratifying. That you are known.” The small stretch of downtown was anchored by an Algerian restaurant run by a young gay couple, one of whom, Brian Bruening, now runs the county Democrats. When I stopped by a Saturday evening mass at the local Catholic church, the woman who served as the cantor was married to another woman. “We don’t all have the same faith and we don’t all walk the same way,” the church’s 77-year-old priest told me after the service, explaining why his congregation should make a concerted effort to reach out with an open heart to those who might have different views.

“The hearts and minds of people started changing so quickly on it, once they started seeing couples getting married,” Price says. “That was always the plan when they started down this path of the lawsuit in ’05, if we can get it in Iowa it will spread everywhere because it’s not just an east coast or west coast thing.” 

To be sure, not all was rosy. Some parents were still wary to let their children around gay and lesbian couples. The pastor at the evangelical church on the outskirts of town was far less welcoming. “If you want a church that will proclaim that homosexuality is ok and that same-sex marriage is ok, if you look long enough, you’ll find one,” he told me back then. “They won’t follow the word of God as it’s written.” But even he acknowledged that it wasn’t so clear cut. “It’s one of those subjects where everyone wants to be accepting of everyone, but we can’t compromise God’s truth for that.”

But it was clear that those interactions might slowly melt away the hate as time went by. “Being at One Iowa in 2010 and 2011,” Price says today, “not only were there people still hesitant because of what happened with the judges, there were people bitter that it was ‘our fault’ for pushing that lawsuit and putting us in this position, that we would have won all this stuff if it hadn’t been for Varnum. By 2015, when the US Supreme Court ruling came out, [the politics of marriage equality had become] a positive out there. You could feel it, you could see that out there. It just moved really quickly after 2010, it just moved really fast.”

Buttigieg swung by Elkader last September. “The most important, the best thing in my life, my marriage, only exists by the grace of a single vote on the US Supreme Court,” he said in his remarks. “And by the way, thank you Iowa for what you did to bring about marriage equality in the United States.” He’s earned the support­­ of Bruening, who said in his endorsement, “I’m with Pete because I see a better future in him—a better America and a better world.” Bruening told me that Buttigieg drew the biggest crowd of any of the Democrats and that perhaps about a third of the attendees were people who have voted Republican. “That he’s married to a man,” Bruening says, “is so not an issue.” 

Buttigieg’s hesitancy to make too much of his place as a first in presidential politics hasn’t exactly engendered goodwill from some activists in the LGBTQ community. Last week, Iowan Lyz Lenz wrote a piece for Gen headlined “What Pete Buttigieg Doesn’t Understand About LGBTQ Life in Iowa,” in which she explained how, while marriage might be a more settled issue, there are still plenty of equality fights in the state, and the local community wasn’t fully behind Mayor Pete. 

But the fact that Buttigieg’s allyship is quieter, that his marriage to Chasten Buttigieg would be a boringly bland political marriage were it not for their respective genders, might be what helps normalize his relationship for these rural communities. “The fact that he’s palatable to middle America,” Bruening says, “is why he’s popular in Iowa.”

“If you step into some of the smaller towns, the more rural towns, you can hear the slurs used as a casual form of language, but the young people today are much more open to letting people live their lives however they want,” Dan Callahan, the chair of the Independence County Democrats, who had introduced Buttigieg, told me after his event in Buchanan county last week, as George Michael’s “Freedom” played over the loudspeakers to usher out the crowd. “There’s a lot of these older people here today. They’re the same way. ‘What you do doesn’t affect me, so I’ll let you do it, if you let me do what I want.’ That’s a lot of what Iowa is all about.”

As much as rigid gender norms loosened nationally in the 2010s, people across the LGBTQ spectrum still face plenty of discrimination, and things haven’t progressed nearly as far on trans rights as they have on marriage equality. Just last week, a group of nine Republicans in the state legislature, including the representative for Clayton County, introduced a bill that would have stripped trans protections from the Iowa Civil Rights Act, but the Republican in charge of the relevant committee quickly killed the provision. “It’s one of those issues,” Price says, “that has moved so quickly and become such a non-issue for most people’s minds that when the Republicans do start talking about it, they get immediate pushback.” Should Iowa send Mayor Pete forward as its top choice against Trump, it doesn’t mean the state is absolved of any lingering homophobia, just as Barack Obama’s win here in the 2008 caucuses didn’t mean racism was solved in the Hawkeye state.

But the fact that Pete is even a competitive candidate, and that the main reason he has a chance is thanks to the small towns that just a decade ago would have been highly judgmental to someone like him, is a quiet success story—one of the few political bright spots of the Trump era.

“There’s a lot of people here who are probably still uncomfortable,” Callahan told me. “But it doesn’t mean they’re going to treat you differently or do anything differently. And they’re certainly not going to vote to support those kinds of actions.” 

December 6, 2019

Is The Nation Ready to Make This Gay Boy The Next President of The United States

 Is This The Next Gay President of The United States?

Mr. Frank is the author of “Awakening: How Gays and Lesbians Brought Marriage Equality to America.”

As Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., has surged to a top position in Iowa polls in the Democratic presidential primary, media reports have emerged warning that his sexuality may yet derail his White House bid. A recent national Politico/Morning Consult poll found that a plurality of voters, 45 percent, think the country is not ready for an openly gay president, with only 40 percent saying it’s ready. Consultants have chimed in to say the mayor may be less electable than coastal elites realize because he’s gay.

Ordinary voters are quoted saying they — or their “devout Christian” mother — “would never vote for a gay.” And the Buttigieg campaign’s own focus groups recently found that many undecided black voters in South Carolina regard the candidate’s sexual orientation as a “barrier” to winning their votes.

But the power of polls to predict behavior around social issues and disfavored groups has always been poor, and what we know about people’s attitudes and actions when it comes to L.G.B.T. concerns tells a cautionary tale about how to interpret claims by voters that they won’t support an openly gay candidate for president.

Pollsters have long known about the poor predictive power of asking respondents how they would treat members of an unfavored minority group, especially in politically polarized climates. In the 1930s, following a period, like today, of growing anti-immigrant sentiment, the Stanford researcher Richard LaPierre crisscrossed the country with a Chinese couple, visiting hundreds of hotels and restaurants. Nearly all of them welcomed the group as patrons.
But when he contacted the establishments months later asking them if they would serve Chinese people, over 90 percent said they would not. In an ensuing article, “Attitudes vs. Actions,” LaPiere concluded that polls about social attitudes often reflect how respondents feel rather than how they’ll actually behave.

Subsequent research has repeatedly confirmed this gulf between what people say they will do and what they actually do when it comes to the treatment of certain groups. In the 1970s, surveys suggested that military officers would resign if women were admitted to the service academies. Those who opposed the change used the data to fight women’s inclusion, warning that the military would suffer a fatal blow. But when women were admitted anyway, virtually no one left as a result.
The same argument surfaced a generation later to oppose L.G.B.T. military service. In 2008, a Military Times survey noted that 24 percent of service members said they would not want to serve alongside a gay or lesbian troops. Citing the poll, opponents of inclusive service warned of a mass exodus that could swell to half a million troops if President Barack Obama insisted on overturning a ban. Some said the policy change could “break the all-volunteer force.”

Yet after the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy ended in 2011, nothing of the kind took place. A study written by a panel of service academy professors the next year found that “retention was unaffected” by the reversal of the policy. “There was no mass exodus of military members as a result of the repeal, and there were only two verifiable resignations linked to the policy change, both military chaplains,” the report said.

An equally relevant example of the gap between attitudes and behavior comes from President Obama’s politically risky decision to back same-sex marriage six months before the 2012 election. A Gallup poll conducted just after the announcement suggested that a quarter of voters were less likely to support the president in November because of his support for marriage equality. While it’s impossible to know how many, if any, of those voters actually declined to vote for Mr. Obama because of his position, he handily won re-election. 

Of course, as the first African-American to be elected president, he once faced the same questions Mr. Buttigieg does now about whether voters who express reluctance to support a minority candidate will ultimately match their voting behavior to their words. Although Mr. Obama likely lost some votes because of his race, his two-term presidency offers yet another data point that many will not.

While the “Attitudes vs. Actions” discrepancy suggests that voters tend to overstate the likelihood that they’ll penalize minority candidates, there is also evidence of the opposite effect: “Social desirability bias” — the tendency of respondents to tell pollsters what they think they’re supposed to say instead of what they really believe — as well as the presence of unconscious bias threatens to skew polling results toward more minority-friendly responses.

This was seen when pollsters failed to capture the full extent of Mr. Trump’s support because they concluded, some of his voters were reluctant to voice support for a candidate seen as bigoted. That is, they wanted pollsters to believe they were more enlightened than they were.

These conflicting polling phenomena complicate predictions of how voters will respond when faced with a minority candidate. The “Attitudes vs. Actions” discrepancy is a reminder that many people use surveys not to signal behavior they’ll actually engage in but to express their values and even their biases about members of unfamiliar or disfavored groups, especially when they feel those values may be under threat. After all, it’s not every day that a professional surveyor, with the implicit promise to make your voice count, asks you to share your views about something that you don’t always have the chance to discuss honestly.

Attitudes and intentions don’t correlate neatly with behavior. And headlines that over-read what such polls mean can become a dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy, making some candidates seem less electable than they are. This is a good reason to support the candidate you think is best rather than the one you think others may prefer. Voters should decide at the polls, not in the polls, who wins high office.

December 5, 2019

NPR Reports on Pete Buttigieg Early Days As A Democrat Wanting To Push Up His Party

 When Pete Buttigieg arrived in England, he was a curious, bookish 23-year-old known to his friends as Peter.
The year was 2005. The Iraq War, unpopular among Buttigieg's college peers, was raging with no end in sight. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president, had lost the 2004 election to an increasingly unpopular Republican president.
And Democrats, like Buttigieg, were soul-searching.
"It felt like a pretty dark moment," said Dan Weeks, one of Buttigieg's friends from Oxford who now lives in New Hampshire and is active in Democratic politics in that early nominating state. They were eager, Weeks said, to find like-minded progressives who were not "content with the 'Clinton Third Way' status quo that had defined the Democratic Party for basically our lifetimes."
The Third Way refers to the moderate Democratic politics of the Bill Clinton era that sought to reconcile centrist economic ideas with progressive social ideas.
Weeks said the Clinton model had failed their generation. And he, like Buttigieg, was searching for a way out of that centrism.
He met the future mayor of South Bend, Ind., then a newly minted Harvard graduate, while at Oxford. Buttigieg was studying politics, philosophy, and economics on a Rhodes scholarship. 
And it was during this time that some of the seeds of his political ambitions took root.
In deep conversations in college dorms — nearly 15 years ago — the future presidential candidate joined friends to create an informal group with a mission: rebuild the Democratic Party that had suffered from repeated election losses.
The Democratic Renaissance Project

Every week or two, Weeks met up with Buttigieg and another dozen or so friends to debate and discuss politics. "We were nerdy types, I suppose," Weeks said.

Their group was like a book club but without books.

"We were students. It was our full-time job to try to think big thoughts and understand how the world works," Buttigieg said, recounting his Oxford days in an interview with NPR.

Together, they called themselves members of the Democratic Renaissance Project.

The name was kind of tongue-in-cheek, according to Sabeel Rahman, another member of the group.

"I certainly didn't think that we were actually remaking progressive politics," said Rahman, Buttigieg's roommate at the time. "It was more just a way ... for us to work through our own thinking."

Sometimes the friends met in common rooms in the ancient ornate colleges around Oxford; other times they gathered at a local British pub that had been frequented by a former Rhodes scholar whose reputation loomed large in their academic circles: Bill Clinton. 

But as ad-hoc as it seemed, there was also a clear sense of generational urgency; if these brainy, young Ivy League-educated students wanted to live in a better country, it seemed they had to fix it themselves. They felt obliged to prepare for public service.

"It was something more than just the camaraderie, which counted for a lot," Weeks said. "We were looking to challenge each other's thinking, especially at that moment, when after almost eight years of George W. Bush, a lot of us were feeling like the country was almost unrecognizable."

Sometimes the group would circulate writings by modern-day political theorists about citizenship or progressive values.

"A lot of times we'd think through some of the policy debates of the day. The Iraq War was one that came up a number of times," said Rahman, who now serves as president of the progressive group Demos.

NPR contacted more than half a dozen former Democratic Renaissance Project members. Most declined to be interviewed on the record for this story. Buttigieg's friends are a high-achieving crew: They now work at elite universities, law firms and hedge funds. They didn't want to discuss campaign politics given their professional ties. Some are now financially supporting Buttigieg's campaign. Others certainly would vote for him. Weeks recently officially endorsed Buttigieg.

But, in a strange twist, at least two members have also worked for another 2020 presidential candidate: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

That includes Ganesh Sitaraman, a Buttigieg friend from his undergraduate days at Harvard who originally conceived of the Democratic Renaissance Project with him. In addition to the Oxford branch, the group had an outpost in Cambridge, Mass., where Sitaraman was studying.

Sitaraman is a close longtime adviser to Warren.

Pete Buttigieg arrived at Oxford in 2005 as a bookish 23-year-old deeply unsatisfied with the rhetoric of the Democratic Party.

Courtesy of Pete Buttigieg campaign
Centrist critic

During his Oxford days, Buttigieg felt there was a faulty theory circulating among Democrats — an assumption that in order to win elections they had to contort their values, work within the Republican framework and put a conservative spin on their message.

"There had been a smallness to the aspirations of our own party," Buttigieg said. "Because it felt like all those years, the whole first decade of this century, it felt like all that Democrats were doing was responding to Republicans."

There's an echo of this you hear from Buttigieg on the campaign trail, which includes a critique of his own party.

"If we want to win, we can't look like we're the party of 'back to normal,' " Buttigieg told Iowa Democrats earlier this year, in a version of a line he has repeated throughout the campaign. "What we have now isn't working, but 'normal' wasn't working either. That's part of how we got here."

Buttigieg said he was frustrated during the Bush years that the GOP seemed to have a monopoly on family, patriotism, and morality. He felt like his party was focused on policy, and he wanted them to think more about values and philosophy.

"A big part of what we were doing was studying the right," Buttigieg explained. "One of the things that we had noticed was that it was actually the American right-wing that had built the strongest relationship between kind of ideas and politics."

Buttigieg and his friends were obsessed with reforming the Democratic Party.
A 'National Challenge': Pete Buttigieg On Racial Inequity In Policing
Rahman says he remembers one particular example in which they staged a debate at Oxford. The prompt was: "The Third Way Is Good For The Democratic Party: Yay or Nay."

"Pete spoke up. I remember he was against that Third Way approach," Weeks said. "He was strong, and, I thought, certainly a pretty compelling critic of that way."

And yet, ironically, Buttigieg's current critics accuse him of being a modern Third Way politician, a candidate overly focused on rhetoric rather than ideas.

When Buttigieg began his presidential campaign, he suggested some radical changes such as scrapping the Electoral College and reforming the Supreme Court. Now that he's seen as a more viable candidate, he's not as vocal about those ideas.

"I think over time, I've come to appreciate more the policy work that comes out of moderate organizations," Buttigieg said in trying to explain how he reconciles how people see him today with his vocal opposition to centrism while in graduate school.

Small But Powerful, New Hampshire Grips Its Primary Spot. But Does It Matter?
Those friends who formed the Democratic Renaissance Project never came to a consensus on ideology among themselves. Most returned to the United States. Some joined universities; Buttigieg joined the consulting firm McKinsey. But every year they would still gather, sometimes in Washington or Cambridge, Mass., and debate ideas, often with a formal agenda and guest lectures.

At one meeting, they brainstormed where the country's politics would be in 10 years. The predictions were remarkably prescient: a country with worsening income inequality and tribalism. Around 2010, the group fizzled out. Today, some of the former members are more centrist, others more liberal.

But Rahman says there was something that united them.

"We came into that space not just with a sense of crisis but with a sense that progressive politics as it was being practiced in the post-Clinton era was not up to the task of what we needed progressivism to do," he said.

Many friends agree the focus on freedom, values and generational change Buttigieg speaks about on the campaign trail trace back to those days of soul-searching as liberal millennials living in a George W. Bush world.
 Pete Buttigieg (far right) arrived at Oxford in 2005 as a bookish 23-year-old deeply unsatisfied with the rhetoric of the Democratic Party.Courtesy of Pete Buttigieg campaign

November 27, 2019

Pete Buttigieg is Being Attack For Being The Gay, Americans Don't Understand

                    Image result for pete buttigieg

This article which just came out is one of those I agree with and enjoyed reading it. Not everything I post I agree with because news is news, particularly about the LGBTQ community which is so diverse in opinions.  Adam

This post is part of Outward, Slate’s home for coverage of LGBTQ life thought, and culture.  

As Pete Buttigieg rises in the polls in early caucus and primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, criticism of the candidate has mounted, particularly around his personality. Since entering the field, initial appreciation for the South Bend, Indiana, mayor’s relative youth and rolled-sleeves Midwestern energy has given way to a sense in certain incredulous quarters that he is robotic, overly polished, McKinsey-calculating, somehow fake. A related discontent has emerged in some corners of the LGBTQ community around Buttigieg’s relationship to his own gay identity. Here, too, he can come off as strangely circumspect, seemingly distant from gay culture and history—despite making it as the first serious openly gay presidential candidate. The privileges of race, class, and gender presentation that allow for his “pioneer” status relative to other sorts of queer people (and Buttigieg’s tepid acknowledgment of these) is another sore point. 

I’ll be the first to admit that Buttigieg is missing a certain warmth. And I’ve critiqued his lack of familiarity with gay history in the past. Even so, as a gay historian, I can’t help but witness his rise with interest and excitement, and in the wake of last week’s presidential debate and a revealing interview with Buttigieg on the New York Times’ Daily podcast, a worry has emerged. I’ve come to believe that those who find his self-presentation off-putting are missing an important bit of context—one that has to do with the set of archetypes through which we (queer and straight folks alike) make sense of gay men.

For all the talk of diversity, LGBTQ equality, and representation of gays in the media, many Americans still have limited exposure to gay men. Many know of comical gay men, like Jack from Will & Grace or videos of Billy Eichner’s street antics. They know of attention-grabbing gay men like Liberace and Billy Porter. They know of the hot gay men like Wentworth Miller and Gus Kenworthy. They also know the American sweethearts like Adam Rippon and Anderson Cooper. A subspecies they aren’t as familiar with, however, is the Type A, politically driven, never-take-their-eye-off-the-ball gays—a group of which Pete Buttigieg is an extreme example. 

A subspecies Americans aren’t as familiar with is the Type A, politically driven, never-take-their-eye-off-the-ball gays.

I’ve come to know dozens of this kind of gay man throughout my life, particularly when I was in my 20s, during summer vacations in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in the late 1990s. A group of us would rent a beach house for a week or even the season. We would all pile into it like a frat house, sleeping four to a room with two double beds, some left to sleeping on the living room floor under the air conditioner (me); some sleeping in the un-air-conditioned, haunted attic (also me); some sleeping on the cool cement floor on the dank laundry room, (fortunately not me).

We would spend our days at the beach flipping through entertainment magazines and gossiping about who just pranced by in a Speedo. We would spend our evenings at house parties and crowded bars. And, on Sunday mornings, before we packed up our cars and left, we carpeted the outdoor porch with the weekend newspapers and discussed politics, vigorously. And there was always at least one, or even two, in the group: the guy who was not hungover, who was not wearing someone’s else boxers, but who was instead pristinely dressed in crisp polo shirts and who, like Buttigieg, would rattle off oral essays on anything from foreign relations in the Middle East to the benefits of flying with Air France. 

One particular guy I recall from this time had a penchant for planning every meal that we ate and organizing everything from the time we left for the beach to the first cocktail of the evening. This earned him the name of “Schedule Spice.” It was the late 1990s and, being enamored by the Spice Girls, I created a nickname for everyone: Old Spice, Senator Spice, Italian Spice. And Schedule, who sent love letters by FedEx to his new boyfriend (because it was the era before texting), could answer any question on a moment’s notice, from how to fix the overflowing toilet to the impact of Reaganomics, with ease and alacrity.

So, when I see people dismissing or disliking Buttigieg for his stoicism, his carefully tended résumé, for being “a script, a blandly pasteurized politician,” I see them attacking Schedule Spice and the dozens of other gay men I knew like him.

Viewed through the lens of Schedule Spice, Buttigieg’s persona and life trajectory make complete sense. To my mind, he is the natural end result of a very familiar queer pattern that groomed him for this moment. His religious devotion to mastering the perfect pedigree, his refusal to be single, his denial of any type of popular gay aesthetic (which is, itself, another kind of gay aesthetic) makes him legible to me. His academic nerdiness combined with his über-masculine military service is not a genuflection to heteronormativity, as some have claimed, but a familiar gay identity curated among upwardly mobile white gay men who have often turned to politics in one form or another. The only difference is that Schedule Spice is now vying for the presidency.
Psychologists have analyzed the relationship between a Type A personality, adolescence in the closet, and a need for perfection. Taking their cue from Andrew Tobias’ bestselling memoir, they have developed a theory of the “the Best Boy in the World,” which essentially means that in order to deflect attention away from their closeted sexuality, some gay men have overcompensated in their career or in other areas that award success. Growing up in the Midwest, Buttigieg has explained, made him think that he had to choose between being an elected politician or an out gay person. Unfortunately, unlike me, he never got to meet a summer house full of gay men who didn’t view their gay identity in opposition to their commitment to politics and public life.

Critics of Mayor Pete’s demeanor don’t recognize that his persona reflects the consequence of living in the closet, or “packing away his feelings,” as he put it to The Daily. Despite eventually coming out, getting married, and being the first openly gay man on the Democratic presidential primary stage, the coping mechanisms that he developed from being in the closet did not immediately vanish. When people criticize him for being calculated or robotic, I see the familiar traits of a gay man who had desperately tried to live in both worlds. 

Often, homophobia is easy to spot. It’s easy to call it out, for example, when haters refer to Buttigieg as a woman, as they did after Amy Klobuchar jabbed him during Wednesday’s debate by saying that a female mayor would not be on the stage. It’s also readily visible in the realization that the Supreme Court could invalidate Mayor Pete’s marriage even if he were the sitting president.

It’s harder to name the prejudice and discrimination when critics indict Mayor Pete for a deportment that he cultivated in order to survive. During Tuesday’s debate, one critic on Twitter suggested that someone should just give him another Boy Scout badge so he would sit down. But appearing as a Boy Scout was how he likely survived. It’s evidence of how he straddled a painful divide, of how he felt he was forced to choose one career and life over another. When critics make these gibes, they intend to be clever, even humorous—but what they don’t realize is that they are attacking the shields that many gay men have fortified to defend themselves. And when other gay men—ostensibly familiar with best little boys in their own circles—participate in the pile-on, they are unfortunately fueling a slippery kind of homophobia. 

While his model of gayness might not be widely familiar, Buttigieg’s Boy Scouting, his default of being the best little boy on the stage, is legitimately queer. If it strikes us as odd, it’s only because we have too narrow a definition of how a gay man can be in the world. Understanding Buttigieg through this lens does not, of course, have any bearing on his proposals or problems, such as his poor track record among black voters back home or his campaign’s recent foible of using stock images of Kenyans to represent black Americans. By all means, criticize those. But attacks on his “wonder boy” perfection, his encyclopedic knowledge, and his manner demean him and the many gay men like him—men who marry the first guy they date, who don’t come out till their late 20s, who are socially awkward, who have devoted their lives to work, and whose musical default is not gay pop. Men who, most of all, are raring to discuss politics at any moment, particularly on Sunday morning. 

November 20, 2019

First Openly Gay NYer Who Should Become The First Gay Congressman in DC

                     Image result for mondaire jones

By Tim Fitzsimons

When Mondaire Jones was growing up in Spring Valley, New York, the way the world worked already seemed clear to him: “People like me don’t get close to the halls of Congress,” he said. But his mother taught him he could be anything he wanted. “It was a radical idea,” Jones wrote on Medium.

After completing his studies at Stanford University and Harvard Law School and working at the Department of Justice under President Barack Obama, the world looks different from the 32-year-old. Jones is now a candidate for New York’s 17th Congressional District, and if elected, he could be the first openly gay black man elected to Congress. (The other potential first, fellow New York Democrat Ritchie Torres, would also be elected in 2020.)

The way he tells his life story to voters, as seen in a recent campaign advertisement, draws from his background as the son of a family that fled the South to escape the persecution of Jim Crow — and links that to the Trump administration's response to the deadly 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Jones opens with a story about his grandfather walking to school in segregated Virginia, as white students rode by in a school bus that only they were permitted to ride. "And they would spit on him through the school bus windows as he was walking a dirt path on his way to school," Jones says in the ad over images of a child drawing.

"For me, the policy is personal," Jones told NBC News.

'We cannot be compromising on values'

While working for the Obama Justice Department, Jones said that part of his job was vetting candidates for federal judgeships. “These were folks who would have had no problem saying on the record during the Senate confirmation hearing that they agree with the decision in Brown v Board,” Jones said, referring to the recurring issue of Trump-nominated judges declining to take a public position on the landmark desegregation case.

“I was part of the administration in the early years when we were having an extremely tough time getting judges confirmed by the Senate,” he said. “That’s because, respectfully, we were not fighting hard enough." 

Gay lawmaker says his congressional run against 'homophobe' is personal
Jones lamented that it took continuous GOP obstruction of judicial nominees before Democrats changed the rules of the Senate so that judges could be confirmed by a majority vote.

“I think that should have been done at the very beginning of the administration when it was clear that Republicans were not going to engage in reasonable behavior," Jones added. “I think there was this naïveté, not felt by myself, but certainly naïveté among certain decision-makers early on in the Obama presidency,” Jones said.

He said his experiences in Washington showed him that Obama’s middle-of-the-road, bipartisan approach won’t cut it in the face of GOP intransigence. “The Republican Party of today is very different from the Republican Party of even a decade ago,” Jones said. “And certainly it is different from what it was three decades ago when my member of Congress first took office.” 
For Jones, that means that the way he wants to fight for his political goals puts him more in line with his progressive neighbor, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow Democrat, than Nita Lowey, the incumbent Democrat in NY-17 who was first elected in 1988.

“I’m part of a generation that stands to inherit a planet that's devastated by climate catastrophe,” Jones said. “For me, there's no alternative to a Green New Deal, we have to be fighting for a thing that will make our planet inhabitable for ourselves and our children and their children.”

“In broad strokes, my generation recognizes that in 2021, when I hope to take office, we need to bring an energy to the role of Congress member and president of the United States that is that of a fire,” he added. “Someone who is going to fight tooth and nail for the things we say we believe in as the Democratic Party.”

'Struggling with my self-acceptance'

“I’m proud to be part of a movement of young people, including young people of color and young queer people and young women,” Jones said. But he added that coming out as gay was "hard."

Jones never imagined he could run for office, in part, he said, “because it would mean that I had to be my authentic self.”

“Not only had I not yet come to terms with that aspect of myself, but I certainly doubted that other people would be accepting of it,” he said. “But so much has changed over the past decade, and even over the past five years.” 

Rep. Maloney introduces a bill to ban taxpayer funding of 'conversion therapy'
Jones ended up coming out when he was 24 years old. Now, people come up to him and thank him for running as an openly gay candidate.

“Growing up — struggling with my self-acceptance — if I had been able to look to an example like what I would provide, someone who is a respectable individual, an openly gay black man in Congress, life would have been a lot better for me," Jones said.

The race and the district

After he announced his candidacy in a June Medium post, the race for NY-17 became a contest among Jones and Lowey, NARAL Pro-Choice America leader Allison Fine, Assemblymember David Buchwald, state Sen. David Carlucci and former Department of Defense official Evelyn Farkas. The primary takes place on June 23, 2020, but for a district like this, the winner of the Democratic primary is likely to win the general election.

And as of last month, it’s a primary race that is wide open after Lowey announced she would not be seeking re-election.

“I have tremendous respect for her and her legacy,” Jones said of Lowey, “and frankly she has made it easier for women and minorities like myself to run for office because she's been such a trailblazer.”

New York’s 17th Congressional District straddles the lower Hudson River and contains all of Rockland County and part of Westchester County. Its neighboring district to the north, NY-18, is represented by out gay Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, another Democrat.

Mondaire Jones’ district is a historically wealthy, former Republican stronghold. But since Lowey was first elected in 1988, the district has swung sharply to the left.

“We had a 13-4 Democratic majority on the county board of legislators and now it’s a 15-2 Democratic majority,” he said of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, the county-level government. “We have an overwhelmingly Democratic voter registration advantage and we have a Democratic county executive.”  

With statistics like that, Jones can tout that he is a "true progressive" and “the only candidate in this race not accepting corporate PAC money” and still hope to pull off a win.

He said he’s focused on local issues, like undoing the $10,000 cap imposed on the state and local tax deduction, a tax change that impacted residents of high-tax states like New York that Jones said “crushed families in Westchester and Rockland.”

And if Jones were to win, southern New York’s congressional districts could transform into a progressive bloc represented by some of the most diverse members in the country. Just several miles away is Ocasio-Cortez’s NY-14 District. And Ritchie Torres, a current New York City Council member who is also gay and black, is running to replace Jose Serrano in NY-15. Both Torres and Jones would be the first black gay men elected to Congress if they were to prevail Nov. 3, 2020.

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