No, I don’t like Pete Buttigieg just because I’m gay

by Brian Rowe May 16, 2019 (

Recently someone asked me which of the democrats running for President I liked the best.

This is kind of a hard question to answer just because there are so many people running. But I needed to say something, so I told this person some nice things about Kamala Harris and Cory Booker and Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

But I finished by saying that in the past few weeks the person I’ve been most impressed by is Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor from South Bend, Indiana, who has kind of taken the nation by storm with his incredible wit, quiet demeanor, and intellectual prowess. He served time in Afghanistan. He speaks at least five languages. And he’s openly gay.

I spent close to a minute spilling out plenty of qualifications about Buttigieg. I mentioned a few things he’s said in interviews that made me sit up and take notice of this most impressive individual.

The person before me nodded. Cracked a smile. Then that person said, “You only like him because you’re gay.” This reaction sort of stunned me.

I’ve been openly gay since 2006. I have had a partner for five years, and we share a nice life together. Gay rights of course are important to me in every shape and form. And yes, it would be the thrill of a lifetime to one day see an openly gay man become President of the United States.

But this isn’t why I like Pete Buttigieg. It’s a reason, sure, I would never deny that, but I’d put it way down on the list. His being gay wouldn’t even be in my top five of reasons I find him to be an exciting candidate. I would never get behind a political candidate just because he’s gay, and I wouldn’t want anyone else, no matter your political affiliation, to assume that about me.

That if he were straight, I would be looking elsewhere. That if he were straight, there would be nothing at all that excited me about him. This couldn’t be further than the truth. The same way it’s not true that if you’re a straight while male, you necessarily need to get behind a straight white male candidate. The same way it’s not true that if you’re a black person, you have to get behind a black candidate. The same way it’s not true that if you’re a woman, you automatically support one of the female candidates without a moment’s thought.

Sure, who you are plays a big role in your outlook on life, in your personal beliefs, on the way you see the world. But to get behind a political candidate just because someone is gay or is black or is a woman is never a strong enough reason to vote for anyone. There always needs to be more. And this thinking toward others, including our friends and family, isn’t going to get us anywhere.

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