To celebrate, LGBTQ+ history month, we are highlighting figures in the community and how they are using their platform to promote progression in society. Representation is a crucial part of gaining equality as it gives people who might not know a member of the LGBTQ+ community a reference point and remove the unnecessary stigma. Politics is one of the sectors of society that are still lacking in diversity.
Pete Buttigieg is an American politician who ran in the 2020 democratic primaries and was a front runner behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. He was the youngest and first openly gay mayor of his hometown South Bend, Indiana, which he won under Mike Pence’s governing. This isn’t the end of his extensive resume; Buttigieg is also an army veteran serving in Afghanistan during his first term as mayor and being a Harvard Rhodes Scholar, fluent in multiple languages and a concert pianist. It is safe to say he is more than qualified for the position despite concerns about his age.
It’s been well documented that Buttigieg came out publicly to his constituents in an election year but got re-elected for his second term with 80% of the vote. This is particularly prevalent as Indiana is a predominately conservative state.
As a figurehead, Buttigieg also made a great leap for representation as he defied stereotypes of gay men that are increasingly prevalent in middle America. Stereotypes that mass media perpetuated Buttigieg corrected by being faithful to himself, a strong leader and a man of faith who just happened to be gay.
Through his campaign, Buttigieg has been open to the fact that he is gay, and his husband, Chasten, was a crucial player in the race as he humanised him, which was a welcoming contrast from his analytical approach to the role. This relationship was also vital as it showed red states a loving relationship between two-man, demonstrating that they face the same challenges and triumphs that all couples go through
Unfortunately, Buttigieg did face criticisms from Vice President Mike Pence. He disagreed with Buttigieg’s faith and sexuality, arguing that his God would not support him in the White House. However, this was a critical turning point in Buttigieg’s campaign and notoriety as he answered this attack with grace and dignity. “Your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator” This eloquent retort left a lasting impression on his legacy and Americans across the country.
Despite losing the Democratic nomination, he bowed out gracefully and endorsed Joe Biden. Currently, Buttigieg is working in Biden’s cabinet, being the first openly gay presidential cabinet member as the Secretary of Transportation. This is a monumental step for fair representation, giving an openly gay man a position of power and change.
This is a lifeline to LGBTQ+ youth and the Americas. Making it clear that under this administration, they won’t be silenced anymore, and their concerns and needs are being echoed within the room where it happens.
Featured Image Credit : CNN