A radio interview last week by gay Democratic presidential nomination candidate Pete Buttigieg created a kerfuffle among some LGBT publications. Umbrage followed the candidate stating, “I can’t even read the LGBT media anymore.”
Buttigieg’s comment was prompted by ongoing accusations that he isn’t “gay enough.” When queried by an Associated Press reporter regarding these criticisms in mid-July, the South Bend, Ind., mayor said, “The best way I’ve found to deal with that is to just be myself and let other people worry about whether it’s enough.”
Last week, in response to being asked on SiriusXM Radio by ‘Urban View’ program host Clay Cane about disparagements lodged in “LGBT circles” that the 37-year-old gay politician is “too masculine” and benefits from a “privilege” as a result, Buttigieg riffed at length when asked, “how different would it be if you were ‘quote-unquote’ more effeminate?”
“It’s tough for me to know, right? ’Cause I just am what I am and, you know, there’s going to be a lot of that. That’s why I can’t even read the LGBT media anymore, because it’s all, ‘Too gay, not gay enough, wrong kind of gay.’ Like jeez, alright. All I know is that life became a lot easier when I just started allowing myself to be myself. I’ll let other people write up whether I’m ‘too this’ or ‘too that’,” Buttiegieg declared while chuckling.
Rank-and-file folks were largely unperturbed by Buttigieg’s pronouncement, nationally reported by NBC News. More than that, many nodded in agreement.
Buttigieg was right, for Pete’s sake.
One complaint volleyed by several LGBT publications, including the Washington Blade, was that several of the more prominent critiques of Buttigieg being “the wrong kind of gay” were written by lesbian or gay writers but appeared in “straight publications.” Among the more controversial of those articles, published by Slate in late March and starting-up much of this dust-up, was a piece by D.C.-based reporter Christina Cauterucci, a self-described “queer lesbian” formerly at Washington City Paper.
Cauterucci argued, “Buttigieg isn’t just gay – he’s also white, male, upper-class, Midwestern, married, Ivy League-educated, and a man of faith” who “can be more accurately lumped in with his white male peers than with anyone else.” She fretted, “From what I’ve seen, Buttigieg doesn’t seem terribly sold on the idea of gayness as a cultural framework, formative identity, or anything more than a category of sexual and romantic behavior.”
Two days after his remarks, during a Buzzfeed News ‘AM2DM’ live Twitter interview, Buttigieg deflected the LGBT media anxiety his statement generated by attributing his candor to having a “grumpy moment.”
Mayor Pete explained, “I do get frustrated with [the coverage] that seems to tell people how to be gay. And, to be fair, that is happening in a lot of different sources and places online.” It was clear that Buttigieg’s primary objective was not to deny disappointment with the continuing critiques of his “gayness” quotient, but to clarify that he appreciated the role of LGBT media. As a gay presidential candidate who has benefited from largely positive gay media coverage while raising boatloads of campaign cash from LGBT donors, softening his earlier quip posed a clear upside.
Sandwiched between Buttigieg’s comment and contrition was the non-televised “LGBTQ Presidential Forum” last Friday night, produced by GLAAD and the Advocate. Fortunately, few voters of any orientation watched the online debacle.
It was an embarrassing train-wreck, more bar-style off-night karaoke experience than of prideful caliber or newsworthy content. The wilting center-stage floral arrangement was symbolic of cringe-worthy amateurishness and head-scratching oddball presidential candidate inquiries.
Startlingly silly pontification by LGBT extremists regarding whether Buttigieg is “gay enough” and a dumbfounding inability to articulate more than fringe-focused dogmatics signifies much is terribly amiss in conveying community consensus and collective concerns.
Putting Pete in a petticoat won’t change that.