Politics

Is Buttigieg Gay Enough To Make Up For His White Male Privilege? The Left Can’t Decide

NBC Screenshot

Celine Ryan Contributor

The left can’t agree on whether rising Democratic star Pete Buttigieg has enough intersectionality points to be a viable presidential candidate. After all, he is a 37-year-old white male. But then again, he is gay.

The Indiana mayor’s recent surge in popularity has left many on the has sparked debate over whether Buttigieg’s brand of diversity is quite diverse enough for the New Democratic Party, or if his white-maleness trumps the value of his homosexuality.

A recent Atlantic op-ed frames Buttigieg’s sexuality as equally as important as Cory Booker’s blackness and Kamala Harris’ Indian and Jamaican heritage in that all of these traits reflect the respective candidates’ ability to “understand the powerless, as victims of power” and to “understand the alienated,” because they themselves have been “marginalized.”

On the same day, CNN published a pandering article touting the mayor’s husband, Chasten, as his “secret weapon,” fondly detailing the spouse’s account of the couple’s first date after meeting online, as well as his admiration for Pete’s “quick wit.”

But where they met online is of particular relevance to some who claim that the candidate is just not the right type of gay for the job. One viral op-ed titled “Why Pete Buttigieg is Bad for Gays laments that Pete and Chasten say they met on Hinge, a relationship-focused dating app for all sexualities, rather than Grindr, an app specifically for gay men notorious for being hookup-oriented. Supposedly, Buttigieg’s habit of jokingly pointing out this fact makes the couple, well, not quite gay enough for his nomination to count as a progressive milestone. “The joke is a good one for a largely gay crowd. It says that Mayor Pete knows about Grindr, just like you. He’s no prude!” the piece explains.

“But it also lets him implicitly disapprove of the more explicitly sexual nature of Grindr. And there’s a constituency there. Among that certain kind of gay, saying ‘I’m not on Grindr’ is the cultural equivalent of the equally snooty, ‘I don’t watch TV,’” the piece continues, referring to Buttigieg as a “palatable gay,” which is apparently a bad thing.

With others, Buttigieg manages to gain a few more points by being multilingual and technically a millennial. And he also plays the guitar! 

But some maintain that while the mayor does gain victim points for his homosexuality, his “white male privilege” must not be ignored. Buttigeig himself conceded that he benefits from such a privilege during a discussion at this year’s South by Southwest, in which he recalled an incident in college where he was not arrested after being caught with marijuana.

“A lot of people had probably the exact same experience, would not have been believed, would have been a lot worse than yelled at, and would not have slept in their own beds that night. And maybe would have been derailed in their college career because of it,” said Buttigeig.

As evidence of his so-called privilege, critics have slammed Buttigeig for a tweet in which he agreed to engage in debate with Ben Shapiro. Such a debate never took place, after supporters begged the candidate to reconsider engaging with the bad man.

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