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Chasten Buttigieg and Queer Critic Go at It Online After Book Review

Chasten Buttigieg and Queer Critic Go at It Online After Book Review

Chasten Buttigieg and Yasmin Nair

“Leave my kids out of it,” the husband of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg responded when a queer critic referenced his children in a review.

Chasten Buttigieg and Yasmin Nair exchanged words online after Nair published a scathing review of Buttigieg’s recently released memoir, I Have Something to Tell You — For Young Adults, a reworked version of his previous memoir that includes new stories from his life that would offer a kid like himself who may come across the book now some comfort.

The August essay prompted a firm response from Buttigieg.

Writing forCurrent Affairs, Nair was critical of the book, claiming it was predictably written and that the stories were curated in such a way that made the entire manuscript read like it was written in support of Chasten’s husband’s political career.

Buttigieg is married to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, whose historic run for president in 2019 as the first out gay man to launch a competitive campaign for president catapulted the couple onto the national stage.

The couple’s parenthood has been a common thread in attacks by the right. Republicans have targeted the transportation secretary for taking parental leave to help care for the pair’s twins, Penelope and Gus, when they were adopted two years ago and when Gus was on a ventilator from RSV complications. The GOP has also criticized Pete Buttigieg for having his husband accompany him on official trips (when other Cabinet secretaries have regularly had their opposite-sex spouses attend engagements without anybody having another thought about it).

In the case of the essay, Buttigieg took issue with the writer over a section of her piece in which she references the couple’s children.

“Even their children could not be more perfect,” she wrote, saying that everything that the Buttigiegs do, in her opinion, is calculated with a single focus of looking good on Pete’s résumé. She jokes about how twins are the cutest of babies before writing that the children are "a handy defense" against criticism.

“And these are biracial children, a handy defense when people bring up Pete Buttigieg’s troubled relations with his Black voters while mayor of South Bend,” wrote Nair, who identifies as brown.

“Chasten met Pete and they fell in love and married and live happily with their surrogate-born twin biracial children and two dogs,” Nair wrote.

Pete and Chasten Buttigieg adopted their twins and did not go through a surrogate.

Nair criticized Pete Buttigieg for struggling to obtain a large share of the Black vote in South Carolina during the Democratic primary in 2020. Black South Carolinians gave Buttigieg just 2 percent of their votes in the state's primary that February.

“Given their talent for curation, it’s hard not to wonder if the Buttigieges didn’t also choose their children as carefully as Melania Trump chose her outfits,” she wrote. “This doesn’t mean that the pair don’t love their incredibly adorable children, but given that even Chasten looks like he was chosen from a catalog of ‘Good Gay Men,’ it’s safe to say that even the most seemingly personal details of Pete’s life are carefully chosen.

Chasten Buttigieg responded to the article on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"Not sure how this is a review of my book. You don’t like it, fine. I’m ok with criticism. Leave my kids out of it," he wrote.

After the post, Nair blamed Buttigieg for the backlash she has encountered over the essay.

“Yesterday, @Chasten, protector of youth, thought he had […] found an easy way to pole vault his husband’s moribund career over some imagined finish line. Today, he’s (doubtless) sitting in a closed room with a damage control team. People have literally told me to kill myself,” she claimed.

“But, hey, all’s fair in hate and hate, yes? I mean, why not incite crowds on the internet to yell at a queer woman and tell her to kill herself AND go on speaking tours where you talk about the vulnerability of young queers to suicide? WHERE IS THE HARM,” she concluded.

On Monday, Nair seemed to double down, striking a defiant tone against those who blasted her comments in the review.

“I’m writing a followup to the responses to my critical review of the Chasten Buttigieg ‘memoir,’” Nair announced on X. “I’m taking the screeds seriously and asking them to respond to my questions. Feel free to pass this on to whomever. If you’re someone who wrote a comment, I’ll probably be asking you.”

Referring to some of the comments she received, Nair wrote, “Perhaps it might be better if you behave more professionally instead of slinging mud at writers who’ve got entire websites of work to quote from.”

Nair warned, “If you’re a professional anything — a writer, a professor, a copywriter, anyone at all — and you sling mud at someone who makes her living by writing by making claims that are unsubstantiated, be prepared to have that sword nick you pretty hard.”

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