A Yale women’s studies professor argued that a TIME magazine photo of Pete Buttigieg and his husband is marked by its “heterosexuality.”
Yale University Professor Greta LaFleur published a bizarre blog post for the Los Angeles Review of Books this week. In the post, LaFleur argues that a recent TIME magazine cover photo of Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and his husband is “culturally-heterosexual.”
To be clear, I have no intention of relegating “family” to the realm of the heterosexual or the straight, for a number of reasons that reflect things like the fact that most queer people have strong ties to family, given and/or chosen. What I am saying is that the unmistakable heraldry of “FIRST FAMILY,” alongside the rest of the photograph — the tulips; the Chinos; the notably charming but insistently generic porch; the awkwardly minimal touching that invokes the most uncomfortable, unfamiliar, culturally-heterosexual embrace any of us have ever received — offers a vision of heterosexuality without straight people.
The professor goes onto to admit that she knows nothing about Buttigieg or his platform. However, she argues that Buttigieg’s rise to fame is at least partially due to the fact that he is a man.
This is not a campaign against Pete Buttigieg (or for him, either; I literally have no idea what he stands for, or doesn’t), and I’m also aware that my least informed guess is probably the right one: that the office of the presidency is so totally bankrupt of positive political potential that in many ways it doesn’t actually make a difference who captures the democratic nomination (2). But it does seem interesting that as the potential of women candidates (Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams, and Elizabeth Warren most immediately) to secure the Democratic nomination seem to be waning, Pete and Chasten appear on the cover of Time. And perhaps this is heterosexuality at its immaterial and strategic best, a heterosexuality that could take back to the Presidency for the Democrats: white, centrist, and without women.
Despite the professor’s claims that Buttigieg, who is the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is “culturally-heterosexual,” he is married to a man.
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