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Chasten Buttigieg talks about his time as a homeless gay 17-year-old

Chasten Buttigieg talks about his time as a homeless gay 17-year-old

  • Meanwhile Pete Buttigieg warns ‘our rights are up for debate’ in this year’s election.
Pete and Chasten Buttigieg getting married in 2018.

Former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has warned LGBT+ people in the US ‘our rights are up for debate’ in this year’s November elections.

Buttigieg exploded onto the world stage as the first openly gay candidate to make a serious run at the US presidency.

He has now dropped out and backed fellow Democrat Joe Biden to take on President Donald Trump in November. 

Yesterday both Pete and husband Chasten Buttigieg spoke from their home at a live event to raise money for LGBT+ centers across the US and beyond.

And during the conversation, Chasten shared what he has in common with many young LGBT+ people who use the vital services the centers provide today.

He said he ran away from home aged 17 and slept rough in his car.

‘Absolutely critical we motivate each other’

The couple were speaking to American comedian Billy Eichner who was co-hosting the live stream event, called Together in Pride: You Are Not Alone.

Eichner started by asking former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg about how people should campaign for the November elections. He replied:

‘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 which may have to happen over long distance, calling or texting or mobilising in different ways to before.

‘But it is still absolutely critical that we reach out and motivate each other to vote because our rights are up for debate.’

‘Empowering’ to be queer and not vote for the ‘queer candidate’

Eichner went on to ask about a generational division which Buttigieg’s team saw during his presidential campaign.

Older LGBT+ people were overwhelmed that there was an out gay candidate to rally behind. But younger LGBT+ people didn’t necessarily feel Buttigieg spoke for them.

He agreed ‘our LGBTQIA+ community is going through that generational experience’ and replied:

‘I saw and was so moved by that same thing you are 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. Part of that comes along with politics. And I wonder if for some people it was empowering.

‘I mean there’s one generation that’s astonished there can even be a candidate and they have the freedom to vote for a candidate that’s queer. For some others it may have been empowering to be able to be queer and not vote for a candidate who is queer.

‘I get that. I just hope that people can have whatever political views and not be mean. I don’t believe we need to add any more meanness to this world.’

‘Sleeping in the back of my car feeling like nobody believed in me’

Meanwhile Pete’s husband Chasten Buttigieg, who he married in 2018, also address LGBT+ youth.

Chasten said: ‘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.’

He said he wanted to help young people using LGBT+ centers get their voice into the corridors of power.

‘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 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.’

Moreover, he shared his own story of homelessness as a gay teen:

‘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.

‘And there are still over 40% of homeless youth in this country are LGBTQ.

‘That’s why it’s so important for us to go out there, do the work and listen. So they absolutely see leaders who are committed to telling their story and showing up for them.’

Even more important to vote than ever

LGBT+ US media charity GLAAD ran the Together in Pride: You Are Not Alone live stream yesterday.

Supporting the event Barbara Streisand warned LGBT+ community centers are at risk. She said:

‘If these community centers had to close their doors that means that LGBTQ kids may not have a meal, it means they may not have a place to go and it also means they won’t have the support that so many of these facilities need to help them find a job and be successful.’

Big names including Rosie O’Donnell, Billy Porter, Matt Bomer, Wilson Cruz, Bebe Rexha, August Getty, Gigi Gorgeous & Nats Getty, Sean Hayes, Adam Lambert, Dan Levy, Brian Michael Smith, joined the hosts Eichner and Canadian YouTube star Lilly Singh.

Meanwhile Melissa Etheridge, Kesha, Mj Rodriguez & George Salazar, Alex Newell, and the cast of Broadway’s Jagged Little Pill provided special musical performances.

You can watch it all here:

The event also repeatedly highlighted the importance of getting out the LGBT+ vote in an election year.

As Pete Buttigieg told the audience:

‘It couldn’t be more important. If you care about the climate, if you care about wages, if you care about rights for our community, if you care about what’s going to happen on the courts, if you care about each other, this is even more important than ever a time to vote.’