In June 2015, just ten days before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg penned an editorial in the local newspaper coming out as a gay man.
“I was well into adulthood before I was prepared to acknowledge the simple fact that I am gay. It took years of struggle and growth for me to recognize that it’s just a fact of life, like having brown hair, and part of who I am,” he wrote, 33 years old at the time and well into his second term as mayor.
That same year, as Buttigieg focused his attention on battling Indiana’s Religious Freedom Reformation Act–legislation that prevented the government from intruding on the religious liberty of businesses–his city entered the list of the top murder capitals in America, with a homicide rate of 16.79 per 100,000 people, higher than Chicago.
Still, left-wing media heralded the announcement in the prescribed way, with gushing praise and pops of digital confetti, as though coming out at a time when 57 percent of Americans supported gay marriage was somehow trailblazing and courageous.
It wasn’t. In fact, it was the opposite. Buttigieg is a millennial, like me. He graduated high school one year before me in a neighboring state, and has grown up in a post-gay world where no one cares about your sexual orientation. I came out at 15 years old, when we could have been classmates, and received nothing but praise and support, as Buttigieg is enjoying today, even from my Republican father (Buttigieg’s father, on the other hand, was a Marxist professor).
As comedian Gavin McInnes says, being a conservative today is like being gay in the 1950s. He’s right. In 2017, when I came out as a conservative, I was fired from my job at a gay magazine, vilified in the media, and lost all my friends. While gay activists and the media like to pretend acceptance of gay people is some new, fragile phenomenon–that America remains a heartbeat away from rounding up the gays and throwing them into conversion camps–they forget simple facts. Ellen and Will & Grace premiered on primetime network television two decades ago. For quite some time, gay has been boring and mainstream. But saying that out loud still sends lefty gays with persecution complex writhing in fits.
This is what is so head-scratching for many gays about Buttigieg’s decision to wait until his 30s to come out of the closet. He didn’t grow up in the 1950s, and I don’t know a single gay man in our generation who waited so long to come to terms with himself.
This may help explain why Buttigieg doesn’t have many fans in the LGBT community. Early on, the far-left, intersectional, genderqueer types piled on Buttigieg for his trifecta of original sin: being white, male, and Christian. He was lampooned for not being the sort of gay who minces around in a rainbow thong at Pride parades. It got so bad, gay magazines finally stepped in to scold their more unhinged readers. “White cis gay men like Pete Buttigieg have no shortage of privilege, but that doesn’t make them Tucker Carlson,” The Advocate wrote this month. “If your beef with Buttigieg is that he is the wrong kind of gay, then take a hike and your fetishized idea of what a gay man should be like with you.”
Then there are people like me, who see Buttigieg as slightly sad and cowardly, whose only fangirls seem to be mainstream, corporate journalists. They’ve launched him into national attention for one reason: as New York magazine candidly, and rather offensively, admitted this week, “He’s gay [but] He’s not too gay.”
What journalists don’t understand, but gay people do, is Buttigieg’s coming out story raises questions about his character, leadership abilities, and decision-making skills. The American people elected Donald Trump because he displays some, if not all, of the heroic manly virtues. This is why President Trump’s supporters can forgive his peccadilloes, because he’s fearless and courageous. Buttigieg exhibits none of those virtues and instead spent his entire adult life actively deceiving everyone around him, including his constituents, at a time when it couldn’t be easier to live openly and honestly.
For someone who’s always had aspirations beyond South Bend, Buttigieg only made his grand announcement when it was not only politically safe, but an advantage. Sure, the GOP has its share of people who came out later in life, like former RNC Chair Kenneth Mehlman. But none of them had an entire political prowess based solely on their sexual orientation.
When I bring this up, smug liberals who usually despise the military remind me that it was impossible for Buttigieg to come out sooner, because he was in the Naval Reserve during Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Yet, Buttigieg didn’t enlist until he was 27 years old, nine years after reaching the age of majority. Less than two years after he enlisted, DADT was repealed and it was another four until he could muster up the courage to admit he’s gay. I once wrote a story about transgender people in the military, and many subjects I interviewed told me they–despite growing to love the military–initially enlisted as a way to prove their masculinity and deflect their tortured, inner desires. I’m not saying this is the case with Buttigieg, but for someone who appears to despise the Constitution, it’s at least worth mentioning.
Buttigieg is an invention of the media, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but he is not the first openly gay person to run for president from a major political party in the U.S. That distinction goes to Fred Karger, in 2012. Karger, now 69, came out in the 1990s and has dedicated his life to LGBT rights, unlike Buttigieg. Never heard of Karger? There’s an easy explanation for that: he’s a Republican.
The media and the left are quick to slander someone like Karger as a “self-hating gay.” Because I’m a political conservative and a supporter of President Trump and Vice President Pence, they do the same to me, undeterred by the fact I’ve spent most my professional career telling the stories of the LGBT community and living openly and proudly as a gay man for over 20 years.
Mayor Pete, what’s your excuse?