As the well known South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is becoming a prominent figure in the 2020 presidential election, civil rights activist Dustin Lance Black wants to make something clear as members of the LGBTQ community get acquainted with the gay candidate.
Black, who is a screenwriter and won the Academy Award for Milk (2008), was asked to comment on the concerns Buttigieg faces from the LGBTQ community in an interview with British program AM to DM.
Most notably, an article on Outline wrote a profile about Buttigieg in which he was described as "the most palatable gay man in America," and why that was a problem.
While promoting his new book, Mama's Boy: A Story From Our Americas, Black was asked if there were any similarities between Buttigieg and the late Harvey Milk – the first openly gay elected official in the history of California as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
"Absolutely — certainly in the theme of 'You gotta give them hope,' meaning you have to elect gay people. That was Harvey Milk's speech because that sends a message of hope."
Black is also a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), a non-profit organization that supports the plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry, which were a series of federal court cases that legalized same-sex marriage in California, beginning in 2009.
He believes Buttigieg isn't deceiving the public and that his persona is an authentic one.
"I actually don't doubt that that's who Mayor Pete really is. It doesn't seem like an act to me. I'll leave it to other people to see if that's an act."
"That's certainly a way some folks in the LGBTQ community are."
Black, who is married to British diver Tom Daley, relates with Mayor Pete as they both live "traditional" lives.
"I'm probably included in many ways in that more traditional-looking life. I'm married, I have a husband, I have a kid."
"But I also want to make it clear, and I hope Mayor Pete makes it clear, that not everyone needs to live a life that looks like his life. That's not the point."
The 44-year-old hopes that the manner in which Buttigieg presents himself to the public doesn't send a message that everyone in the LGBTQ community must adopt "heteronormative" a lifestyle.
"I hope that he's working and fighting for all LGBT people to live as diverse ... lives as we'd like to live, and in no way should this be about having to appear heteronormative, as they say."
Although Black initially chose to root for the gay candidate, he encouraged everyone to listen to all viewpoints as we follow the road to 2020.
"Unless I'm wrong, it's April of 2019. I am listening. This is the time for us to listen, to pay attention, to assess who we feel really means it when they're talking about equality, and I think Mayor Pete's right up there for me. I adore him, but I do think it's the time for us all to really listen carefully."
If it wasn't for Milk paving the way for equal rights in the gay community, we may not have someone like Buttigieg with the fortitude to carry the torch.
April 14 was a defining moment when Pete Buttigieg officially announced he is running for president.
You can watch the full video of Dustin Lance Black's interview on AM to PM on YouTube, below.
Dustin Lance Black's Advice For Young LGBT People www.youtube.com