Gus Kenworthy
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Let's Hear It for the (Gay White) Boy!

Pete

Remember when the big measuring stick of a candidate's electability was how much you wanted to have a beer with them? Boy those were much better times. Nowadays, we have to weigh absurd criteria like their stances on race, gender, health care, and such. These are absolutely insane metrics to judge a politician on. Never in our history have we cared about their defense policy or financial history; we’ve always judged candidates on the meaningless things that appeal to us personally, no matter how petty and shallow. That is why I am so glad that people have decided that Pete Buttigieg is the candidate we don't like because he just isn’t gay or diverse enough.

Oh, I mean sure the sexism that Harris, Warren, and others are being subjected to is terrible, but let’s just be perfectly honest here; have you met our country? The reason that ICE is confining undocumented immigrants in hastily built cages under highway underpasses, reproductive rights are being eroded, and our democracy is dying from cancer is because too many people thought that voting for a woman who didn’t shut up when the men were talking was a bridge too far. However, I’m talking about Pete “Gay Isn’t Diversity” Buttigieg here, and by God, I love the fact that it’s not the conservatives acting horrified at voting for a gay white man, but the insane-from-sleep-deprivation-woke people out there.

God bless you folks. Instead of focusing on his policies, so many of you have decided that being gay is just not good enough to not merely vote for, but to even give the basest levels of respect to. I appreciate the fact that your impression of gay men is entirely based off of the stereotypes of the ones in your immediate personal circle and the queens on Drag Race — in this world gays fart rainbows and glitter while giving queer studies lectures in Emma Goldman drag. While so many of you have tweeted your thumbs raw with calls for diversity, inclusion, and pointing out when discrimination occurs, one has to simply marvel at the moment that a gay man doesn’t fit into your preconceived ideas of what a gay man should act like or think about himself.

While it’s easy to understand why so many folks are eager to see a woman (possibly a Black woman!) obtain the highest position in our country outside of The Voice judge, to decide that a white gay man is just not diverse enough takes an amazing amount of cognitive dissonance. One has to assume these folks dissing Pete as same old-same old consume lots of LGBTQ media, since they're so interested in diverse voices; so certainly they're aware gay white men still suffer discrimination in this country. I mean, yes, gay white men have white privilege and all that entails (like uttering "All Lives Matter," yikes), but they’re still gay men, which means they can be legally denied a job, insurance, housing, and other protections in half of this country. They are still physically attacked, denied medical care, and suffer abuse to the point they would rather kill themselves than suffer another day of it. Even if they grow up in wealthy households in safe neighborhoods and attend great schools, they are still subjected to the pressures of heteronormativity and toxic masculinity, which cause lifelong emotional trauma and pain many turn to substance abuse to cope with. 

In no way am I comparing the suffering of gay white men to those of queer women, especially POC and trans women. I know very well that white privilege exists, and it holds many benefits, but that does not ever negate the other disadvantages they have, just that their whiteness will not be one of them. In fact, some of wokest folks hating on Pete are the people who taught me that. Strange how once that becomes an inconvenience to a candidate before the first primaries even begin. The calls for diversity stop the minute that it’s not the right diversity.

It also is a marvel that this critique of Buttigieg is based around how he expresses himself as a gay man. People have critiqued that he came out for the wrong reasons, that he isn’t as in tune with the latest in queer theory, state his politics as a gay man are wrong, and posit that he hasn’t self-reflected enough. Being gay, lesbian, trans, bi, or any other thing is not done to a damn syllabus with assigned projects and reading. Diversity isn’t just showing up with a skin color, gender, or sexuality; it’s experiences too.

The LGBTQ experience and expression isn’t stamped out on a factory line in a third world country and sold at a huge mark up at a Pride booth like a rainbow flag with a socialist rose on it. LGBTQ identity is the only thing that unites us, other than that everything is fair game. We don’t all follow celebrities and fashion, nor do we know all know who Harvey Milk or Sylvia Rivera are, much less graduated with a degree in a minority studies. We’re not all socialists or Democrats; some of us are actually kind of conservative.

If your beef with Buttigieg is that he is the wrong kind of gay, then take a hike and your fetishized idea of what a gay man should be like with you. This is not some closeted conservative passing anti-LGBTQ legislation, or some gay man siding with Trump to grift some money and power out of him (Peter Thiel, cough, Richard Grenell, cough). Pete Buttigieg is a Democrat from Indiana with the ideas and opinions that come with that. Yes, he is diverse enough because, if you forget, he lived in a state run by Mike Pence, which you know, makes him an additional oppressed minority (LGBTQ Indianan is a double whammy).

He is the “right type of gay” because there really is no right type of gay to be. Now go find some other petty reason to hate the guy that doesn’t make you sound so shallow.

AMANDA KERRI is a writer and comedian based in Oklahoma City, and a regular contributor to The Advocate. Follow her on Twitter @Amanda_Kerri.

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