Pete and Chasten Buttigieg zoomed in from isolation to chat with Billy Eichner during GLAAD’s online ‘Together in Pride’ event on Sunday night.
Eichner asked Pete how the 2020 campaign is going to have to adapt given the coronavirus epidemic.
Said the former candidate: “This is not the first time there’s had to be a big change in campaigning. It is the first that it has had to happen so fast. That is why it’s so important for us to use digital tools and personal relationships, real life relationships that may have to happen over long distance, calling or texting or mobilizing in different way than before, that we can’t get together physically. But it is still absolutely critical that we reach out and motivate each other to vote because our rights are up for debate.”
Eichner noted that he’s between gay generations that “can’t believe you even exist and are so proud and excited to see your success” and a “much younger LGBT generation who don’t feel that same sense of connection to you simply because you’re gay.”
Eichner asked Pete how he saw that response in hindsight.
Pete responded: “I saw and was so moved by that same thing you’re talking about where people, especially from an older generation, sometimes would come up to me and couldn’t form words, they’d tear up and I knew what it was they were saying. It was very humbling to hear that they were moved to think about my candidacy in the context of that struggle. Because that’s a struggle I don’t even fully understand. And to even be able to do this, for Chasten and me to be married, certainly for me to be an out candidate, we are standing on their shoulders. There was something so powerful about that.”
“As for the negativity, part of that is how social media works,” Pete added. “Part of that comes along with politics. And I wonder if for some people it was empowering. As a group that’s still so close to the edge in terms of marginalization. To frankly feel empowered to be queer and to not vote for… You know there’s one generation that’s astonished there can even be a candidate and they have the freedom to vote for a candidate who’s queer. For others it may have been empowering to be able to be queer and not vote for a candidate who is queer. On some level I get that. I just hope that people can have whatever their political views are and not be mean. I don’t believe we need to add any more meanness to this world.”
At that point Chasten jumped in to interject his thoughts.
Said Chasten: “I think young people across the board in this country are so fed up with power and Washington and politics that has continually failed them. I remember when I came out growing up in northern Michigan I ran away from home and I absolutely felt like nobody understood me. I would visit these LGBTQ centers. I will never forget at one of these centers I went to, I sat down with a group of young trans people. And they would be like ‘you don’t get my story.’ And I’d say ‘that’s exactly why I’m here. Because it’s time we bring your story to Washington and you have leaders in Washington who believe in you and see you.’ So I think a large part of leadership is just showing up and shutting up.”
“I remember being 17, sleeping in the back of my car feeling like nobody believed in me and that there was never going to be a future for me,” Chasten continued. “And there are still over 40% of homeless youth in this country are LGBTQ. That was so important for us to go out there, do the work and listen. So they actually saw leaders who are committed to telling their story and showing up for them.”
Pete also had a message for young voters. “It couldn’t be more important” to vote in this election.