Buttigieg’s campaign speaks to more than just his supporters
DES MOINES, Iowa—On Tuesday afternoon, Chasten Buttigieg and actress Mandy Moore visited Drake University as surrogates for former Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign. Moore and Buttigieg seemed right at home at Drake, sharing the students’ enthusiasm for the live mascot, Griff the bulldog. Moore and Buttigieg answered questions read to them by moderator, and fellow Drake student, Emilyn Crabbe in the basement of the Olmsted Center. The questions focused more on the two surrogates’ personal experiences than on policy. Moore was asked about how she came to be a surrogate on the Buttigieg campaign. She explained that she was not always active in politics, but the 2016 election changed things for her. Moore also said that she became familiar with Pete Buttigieg through his campaign for the Democratic National Committee chair in 2017. She saw potential in Buttigieg then and said she was excited to support his presidential bid now.
Chasten Buttigieg spoke about his experience growing up, and how that related to his husband’s campaign. Buttigieg stated that his mother, who was also in attendance, often had to choose between her own medical needs and the needs of her children growing up. Buttigieg said this experience helped him understand why the healthcare reforms his husband proposed were so important. Buttigieg also recalled his experience as an educator and spoke about how he worked with fellow educators across America to help draft the Buttigieg campaign’s education policy.
Buttigieg also spoke about his experience coming out as a gay man. A few students, myself included, teared up at his retelling of the experience. Buttigieg spoke solemnly about how he feared everyone he loved would reject him when he came out, a fear that many members of the LGBTQ+ community share while in the closet. It was clear that Buttigieg’s story resonated with some audience members, and it definitely resonated with me. Buttigieg also said he would have loved to see someone like him, someone happily married and proud, in such a visible position as a presidential campaign when he was growing up. As a fellow member of the LGBTQ+ community, I could not help but agree with him.
This idea that Chasten Buttigieg shared demonstrated how Pete Buttigieg’s campaign has been able to impact more than just his supporters. To be able to see an openly gay man run for president, and do so relatively successfully, has been encouraging. The success of Buttigieg’s campaign has signaled to the LGBTQ+ youth of America that attitudes have shifted, and wide-spread acceptance is the new norm. The campaign has served as a means to elect Pete Buttigieg as president, but it has also served as a beacon of hope for members of the LGBTQ+ community who still fear rejection based on their identity. Pete made it this far, and so can you.