by Joe Siegel
Openly gay Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has retracted his criticism of LGBTQ media after a backlash from media outlets and others in the community.
Buttigieg made his initial comments during his interview on “The Clay Cane Show” on the SiriusXM Urban View channel. Cane, who is gay, asked, “I’m sure you’ve heard this before in LGBT circles that more masculine-presenting men have more access. How different would it be if you were, quote-unquote, more effeminate?”
“It’s tough for me to know,” Buttigieg replied. “I just am what I am, and, you know, there’s going to be a lot of that. That’s why I, I can’t even read the LGBT media anymore, because it’s all, ‘He’s too gay, not gay enough, wrong kind of gay.’ All I know is that life became a lot easier when I just started allowing myself to be myself and I’ll let other people write up whether I’m ‘too this’ or ‘too that.’”
Buttigieg later admitted he had “a grumpy moment” before acknowledging both the importance of queer media and that criticisms of his sexuality come from sources other than LGBTQ media.
Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, responded to Buttigieg’s criticism in an e-mail sent to his campaign staff: “Contrary to his assertion, we have not criticized him for ‘not being gay enough.’ The two stories I’ve seen in that vein were in Slate and Vice — mainstream outlets. I hope he will correct these offensive remarks and not join the dangerous ‘Fake News’ media attacks that have endangered the lives of many working journalists.”
Mark Ariel, publisher of Los Angeles’ The Fight, was willing to cut Buttigieg some slack.
“I can understand the annoyance of reading somewhere that you’re not ‘gay enough,’ and that most likely was written in some LGBTQ media outlets,” Ariel said. “The Fight has always been very supportive of Mayor Pete, and we will continue to be supportive. Beyond the fact that he is the first gay candidate to make it this far, we are more or less aligned with his views.”
Leo Cusimano, editor of Dallas Voice, said the newspaper had “not done any reporting on Pete Buttigieg’s ‘level of gayness’ and whether he is too gay or not gay enough.”
Cusimano remains supportive of Buttigieg’s candidacy: “Pete is very intelligent and, as I have investigated his candidacy further, it has become obvious to me that he has exhausted every talent and effort in his research of the issues.”
Some LGBTQ journalists, such as Diane Anderson-Minshall, editorial director of The Advocate and Chill magazines, believe Buttigieg is under pressure to represent the entirety of the LGBTQ community.
“I suspect though that [Buttigieg] is a bit on edge because he knows that just as President Barack Obama was the man to make it for African-Americans, Pete is just the kind of LGBTQ candidate that will become the first of us to make it to the White House,” Anderson-Minshall said. “He’s a white, Christian, upper-middle-class, monogamous, non-threatening, and easy on the eyes man with a homespun Midwest sensibility that makes people like him.”
(Read Diane Anderson-Minshall’s guest commentary on this issue below.)