Well, we were all waiting for it. The question was swirling all over this gay town of ours ever since the election was called for Joe Biden. I mean, the first time it was called. Where would Pete Buttigieg be hanging that hat of his in the new administration? There were rumors of some high-profile ambassadorship like the United Nations? Or maybe even China. But the gay gossip was that husband Chasten quickly nixed that idea, preferring something more stateside. Then there was Veteran’s Affairs, but that’s the dead-end of Cabinet positions — a thankless and also impossible job.
And none of these was really speaking to the man who not only won the Iowa caucuses, but also more or less handed Biden the presidency when he realized it was over for him and his campaign, and deciding that letting Trump trounce Bernie Sanders in the general election was probably not a great idea for the country.
And then there was last week’s announcement — Buttigieg would be our next Secretary of the Department of Transportation! Exciting, right? Honestly, at first I was left scratching my head. No offense to all my gay transportation nerds out there, but what a boring, un-sexy job, right? And what little boy out there dreams of becoming the Secretary of the Department of Transportation?
Apparently Pete did. And who would be surprised by that? In his acceptance speech, Pete said that “travel in my mind is synonymous with growth, with adventure — even love. So much so that I proposed to my husband Chasten in an airport terminal,” he said. “Don’t let anybody tell you that O’Hare isn’t romantic.” And that’s all believable coming from him. Once again Pete makes geek chic. And this thoughtfulness and careful use of words, isn’t that what we’ve been missing these last four years?
And let’s not forget that Biden is Amtrak Joe. And transportation as a key issue of his means that he thinks Pete is up to the job. And as older Cabinet members move on, Pete could do the shuffle among agencies, further building his federal qualifications. Let’s not forget, as erudite and likable as he is, he was just a mayor. And building those qualifications is hugely important. I think we can all agree that Pete running for president again is not a question of if, but when. And Joe Biden recognizes that.
Then there’s the history of it all. Pete gladly took up the title of the first openly gay Cabinet member, which is true. But I can’t help but to think a little of Janet Reno here, Bill Clinton’s rather boxy and effective attorney general. The team of trolls at the Trump White House was fighting hard last week for that title to go to chief troll Richard Grenell, former ambassador to Germany and former acting Director National Intelligence. But since he was never confirmed by the Senate, I can confirm for you now he does not deserve that title of first openly gay Cabinet member. Plus he was so hated in Germany that they openly asked for someone else, anyone else, to come and replace him.
Having Pete and Chasten in Washington will be very exciting on so many fronts. All the gay Episcopalians have been asking if they’ll be more St. Thomas, or St. John’s. All the gay brunchers out there are wondering if they’ll be more Floriana, or more Annie’s? All the gay Realtors are wondering how to get Pete’s cellphone number.
So hang onto those Pete buttons and T-shirts, gays. The best is about to come roaring down the tracks.
Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer. He contributes regularly to the Blade.