As the first and only openly gay presidential candidate, you would think former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, would be a dream come true for the LGBTQ communities of the nation. But apparently, he is far from it. In fact, many who share his sexual identity are openly against him.
So what is their problem with Buttigieg?
Well, there are several, but most fall into the category of not being gay enough or that he doesn’t sufficiently represent their community.
The voices of those who think like this were heard last week during and after a campaign event held for the candidate in San Francisco. The event was going well until the former mayor was interrupted by a few “queer” supporters wanting to ask him a question. But instead of raising their hands, they resorted to shouting.
When it was found out that they were actually activists protesting the event, they were escorted out of the building, where reporters from The Guardian caught up with them.
One woman told the outlet, “I’m definitely proud of the fact that a gay candidate has made it thus far, but it’s hard to enjoy or appreciate when his stances are so middle-of-the-road and speak to a predominantly white, upper-class audience.”
She continued, saying, “Pete Buttigieg represents a very small percentage of the experiences of queer and trans people in this country, being white and being cisgender and being a man, being someone who is educated.”
The protestors went on to discuss that while Buttigieg’s participation in the race is a good thing, he does little for the community he claims to be a part of and definitely could be doing more, particularly for those of color.
One said, “We know queer and trans folks of color, especially black queer and trans folks, live at the intersection of so many systems of oppression in this country. This run for president could have been a really unique opportunity to lift up those experiences and talk about all the different ways we are criminalized, and our safety is constantly threatened and we are shut out of institutions on the regular. But this campaign has not been about that.”
Celi Tamayo-Lee, who was one of the women kicked out of Buttigieg’s event, said, “We’re allowed to want the gay candidate who is running to do better and be better for queer communities of color.”
Instead, Buttigieg has made a clear point to speak mainly to those just like him, well-educated, white, male, and fairly well off.
The event this protest was held at is a prime example of this. Tickets or seats for the sold-out event cost anywhere from $250 to $2800, depending on what you wanted to hear and see. $250 got you in. $1500 gave you preferred seating, and $2800 meant you could meet the candidate in person and hold a fundraiser, according to Mercury News.
Tracey Corder, another protester at the event, told Mercury News, “Today, we are out here making a statement to Pete Buttigieg, who’s running for president, that if he’s coming to San Francisco, he needs to be meeting with real people. He’s having a high dollar fundraiser in the (National LGBTQ Center for the Arts). He has not reached out to any of the community groups on the ground who do the work to outreach the people.”
San Francisco resident and filmmaker Jethro Patalinghug told Pete, “stop playing the gay card because you’re not a representative of our community.”
But Pete’s mediocre gayness is only part of makes him not ‘woke’ enough for many on the left. Those like Corder and Patalinghug also have some issues with a few of Buttigieg’s platform ideas, or the lack thereof.
Among most complaints against Buttigieg are:
- his flip-flop on Medicare for all
- not being committed to decriminalizing border crossings
- his opposition of all the free things more liberal candidates promise such as healthcare, student debt cancelation, and college tuition
- the fact that he has yet to address the issue of race in his own home town, let alone the nation
- and his willingness to not cater to the poor and needy
These protesters do have a point; if Buttigieg really wants to be part of that community, he cannot only promote solutions to issues that don’t involve them.
However, at the same time, should the man really be criticized for his lack of unfortunate life experiences? According to the LGBTQ community, apparently so. If you aren’t a victim, you don’t belong.