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How #BeardedButtigieg Caught Fire on Gay Social Media

Pete Buttigieg

Images of Pete Buttigieg with a beard are turning heads on social media.

A triptych of photographs circulating Facebook with the hashtag #BeardedButtigieg depicts the gay presidential candidate from what appears to be his time in the U.S. Navy with various amounts of facial hair. In one, the normally cleanshaven Democrat sports a mustache and fatigues.

The photos sparked thirst and approval among queer commentators. A Thursday article in kenneth in the (212), a popular gay blog, titled its coverage of them as "Mayor Woof for President," adding in its caption, "I'll bet the gays wouldn't be complaining about this candidate."

Buttigieg, despite making history as the first top-tier gay presidential candidate, is not universally supported in the LGBTQ community. For example, the executive editors of Out and The Advocate endorsed a more progressive candidate, Elizabeth Warren, in a recent op-ed.

Unfortunately for beard lovers, Buttigieg's facial hair is fake news. Jim Fall, director of the gay classic Trick and the upcoming Trick 2, added the hair through FaceApp, an application that can change the appearance of a face to another age or gender. It can also add tattoos, makeup, and, as it turns out, beards.

Fall created and posted the doctored shots Thursday to Facebook, where they caught fire and were widely shared, with the hashtag #BeardedButtigieg. Fall, in a conversation with The Advocate, said he was inspired to create the images after being "impressed with [Buttigieg's] ability to stay cool and smart" during last night's "fiery debate in Las Vegas," in which Warren scored many headlines for her takedown of Mike Bloomberg. 

Observing another photograph of Buttigieg with a mustache Thursday morning, Fall decided to make his own from his favorite shots of the politician "and damn, he looks good with a full-on beard!" he exclaimed.

"I'm still on the fence about who I'll vote for ultimately, but both Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren have stayed at the top of my list. Elizabeth doesn't look so good in a beard or mustache, so I didn't post those," he added with a laugh.

Additionally, in creating #BeardedButtigieg, Fall — bearded himself — hopes to encourage positive conversations around Buttigieg in LGTBQ online spaces, which he observed can often be negative toward the former mayor of South Bend, Ind.

"It's amazing to me that we are living in a time where an out gay married man is a serious contender for the presidency," Fall said. "No matter what you feel about his specific politics, the LGBTQ community should be celebrating. I see so many gay men on social media knocking him down, and it's disheartening. You don't have to love him or even support him, but don't disrespect him. Don't eat your own."

Fall said the enthusiastic response to the photographs shows that people are now taking a fresh look at the candidate. "I think seeing Pete with a beard gives people pause. It's like, dang, he's smart and sexy. That's an intoxicating combination," he said.

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