Chasten Buttigieg has won the hearts of tons of people as his husband, Pete Buttigieg, campaigns across the nation for the presidency.
People have fallen for Chasten's charisma, his intellect, his "realness" and his warmth.
Recently, Chasten opened up to The Washington Post about how this new-found popularity has affected him and how that popularity hasn't exactly translated to his family life.
As far as potential "first spouses" go, Chasten is unique. He's still in his twenties, the campaign is happening in the first year of his marriage, he is the first in his family to graduate from college and he and Pete are a same-sex couple.
Chasten Buttigieg is a story of firsts.
One of the major firsts in his life has to do with his family. Chasten is the first member of the LGBT+ community in his working-class, mid-western, conservative Christian family. Coming out didn't come so easily to him, but Chasten Buttigieg insists nobody was entirely surprised.
He told The Washington Post that he was entirely different from his two older brothers his whole life. They were athletes; Chasten preferred reading, theater, and Celine Dion ballads.
In their small High School, about 500 students total, there were no openly LGBT+ students - but that didn't prevent Chasten from standing out enough to be bullied, called homophobic slurs and get flung around by his backpack in physical attacks.
Eventually, Chasten applied to an exchange program that sent him to live in Germany for a brief period of time.
It was there that he finally confessed that he had been:
"scratching and itching and clawing to try to change whatever brain chemistry was making me the way I was."
Rather than reject him, the friends he made in Germany just gave him a word to go with how he was feeling - gay. Chasten Buttigieg accepted his homosexuality for the first time while in Germany. He knew it would change his whole world back home.
He wasn't wrong.
When he told his friends, they mostly responded by telling him that they loved him. However, there was a sharp divide in that love. Some loved him just the way he was, but others loved him by telling him he should turn to God to fix him.
That sentiment was later echoed in his family by his brothers, but we will get there.
First, he told his parents. He sat them down in the living room and handed them a letter filled with words he couldn't bring himself to say aloud.
After reading it, his mother's response shocked him.
"I remember my mom crying, and the first thing she asked me was if I was sick. I think she meant, like, did I have AIDS?"
His father opted for silence and Chasten spent what felt like ages getting the cold shoulder from his once warm and loving family.
Then he heard his brother utter the words that convinced him he wasn't safe at home:
"No brother of mine …"
At that point, he made the difficult decision to leave, feeling safer homeless than he did with his family. Chasten spent time couch surfing or sleeping in his car in the parking lot of his university.
It took months, but eventually his parents asked him to come back home. Their next conversations on his sexuality clearly went better than their first.
When Chasten and Pete fell in love, his parents were thrilled and proudly walked Chasten down the aisle to his future husband.
That loving acceptance hasn't come from his brothers, though. According to Chasten they just never got past it.
To this day Chasten has no relationship with either of his older siblings. One declined to be interviewed for The Washington Post piece.
The other, Rhys, who is now a Christian minister in Michigan admitted that Chasten coming out was not at all a surprise. Everyone had known since childhood.
However, knowing Chasten was born this way didn't mean the minister could accept it.
He simply stated:
"I want the best for him. I just don't support the gay lifestyle."
Gay U.S Ambassador To Germany Compares Pete Buttigieg To Jussie Smollett's 'Hate Hoax' For Attacking Mike Pence
Just about everyone is familiar with Jussie Smollett's alleged hate hoax.
Now United States Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is accusing Pete Buttigieg of something similar.
Recently, Buttigieg called Mike Pence "anti-gay". Richard Grenell, who is gay, claims Pete Buttigieg is committing a hate hoax.
Here’s a tweet from 2015 that is barely mentioned. The hate hoax being perpetrated on my friend @VP Mike Pence is… https://t.co/FuNlERxNhx— Richard Grenell (@Richard Grenell) 1555667995
Buttigieg was commenting on a video where Pence calls the former "don't ask, don't tell" policy too pro-gay for the military.
During an interview with Fox news Grenell said, after viewing the clip of Buttigieg calling Pence anti-gay:
"Mayor Pete has been pushing this hate hoax, along the lines of Jussie Smollett, for a very long time now, several weeks."
Grenell, who calls the Pences his friends, has said they are:
"...great…godly people [who] don't have hate in their heart for anyone."
He went on to talk about how Mike and Karen Pence know his partner and have accepted them.
Karen Pence has even accused Buttigieg of using her husband for notoriety. Grenell mirrored this by suggesting Buttigieg was only bringing up Pence's well-known stance on LGBTQ+ issues in order to encourage donations and gain attention as he runs for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination for 2020.
Grenell questioned why Buttigieg, who would be the first openly gay President if elected, would speak poorly against a man who has spoken so well of him in the past.
Buttigieg responded by saying:
"People will often be polite to you in person while advancing policies that harm you and your family. You will be polite to them in turn, but you need not stand for such harms. Instead, you push back, honestly and emphatically. So it goes, in the public square."
Jay Lockhart, a former press secretary, questioned why a sitting U.S. ambassador would be speaking out against a potential presidential candidate on TV.
@a_miehls @RichardGrenell @marthamaccallum Why is a sitting US ambassador going on TV to talk about a Presidential candidate?— Joe Lockhart (@Joe Lockhart) 1555629270
Grenell responded to the tweet that he was defending his friend.
My friend was attacked. I’m defending my friend from a terrible & erroneous charge of homophobia. And I’m gay. https://t.co/PvJsPq1APy— Richard Grenell (@Richard Grenell) 1555629977
There were many replies, wondering why Grenell seems to ignore Pence's Anti-LGBTQ+ stance.
@joelockhart @a_miehls @RichardGrenell @marthamaccallum Because they are afraid that Mike Pence and his anti-gay ag… https://t.co/aWVP9wULbZ— Michelangelo Signorile (@Michelangelo Signorile) 1555641751
Wait, what? Are you seriously denying that VP Pence has engaged in homophobia? I’m asking earnestly, not snarkily. https://t.co/kaSmrnMkfG— Jeremy Hooper (@Jeremy Hooper) 1555634416
Okay, I’ve now watched the clip, and the answer is yes. Ambassador Grenell, a gay man, just claimed that… https://t.co/KE0K85kR6p— Jeremy Hooper (@Jeremy Hooper) 1555637054
Buttigieg: Pence is cynically exploiting his religious faith to legitimize a serial philanderer in the eyes of evan… https://t.co/NiYW0KfpUy— Scott Bixby (@Scott Bixby) 1554998665
The fact that Pence has not used an anti-gay slur against Buttigieg does not mean the mayor has no valid reason to… https://t.co/4pa3b9PUnH— Mark Joseph Stern (@Mark Joseph Stern) 1554987816
@mjs_DC It was painful but illuminating to read the article you provided. Thank you. (I had always loathed Pence fo… https://t.co/4fS7K58gpP— Nancy Molzon (@Nancy Molzon) 1555006455
Lockhart was not the only one to find a sitting Ambassador inserting themselves into a political campaign inappropriate. GLAAD also called Grenell's Fox News appearance.
A sitting ambassador shouldn’t be going on TV to attack a Presidential candidate, @RichardGrenell https://t.co/FCscMPoNBq— GLAAD (@GLAAD) 1555707766
In response, Grenell claimed GLAAD should support him because he's gay.
Odd that GLAAD wants to silence gays they don’t agree with. Are we all supposed to think the same?#realdiversity https://t.co/j3W57A6hRd— Richard Grenell (@Richard Grenell) 1555711859
Whether it is an attempt to start a feud or an attempt to derail Buttigieg's run for President, it seems as though Pence and his friend Dick Grenell want to forget his history of anti-gay actions while in public office.
We remember, Mike and Dick, we remember.