2020 American presidential candidate and Indiana mayor, Pete Buttigieg – who would be the first openly gay president if elected – has clarified his criticism of queer media as a “grumpy moment”.
The move comes after the Democratic Party presidential hopeful and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, discussed his relationship with the LGBT community last week on American radio network SiriusXM, with Clay Cane on The Clay Cane Show.
During the interview, Cane told Buttigieg “more masculine-presenting men have more access” in LGBT circles and asked Buttigieg: “How different would it be if you were quote-unquote ‘more effeminate’?”
The 37-year-old candidate replied that he was unsure, adding that he steers clear of LGBT media.
“It’s tough for me to know. I just am what I am, and, you know, there’s going to be a lot of that. That’s why I can’t even read the LGBT media anymore, because it’s all, ‘too gay, not gay enough, wrong kind of gay’,” Buttigieg said.
“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 officially launched his 2020 presidency campaign on 14 April this year in South Bend. If elected, he would not only be the first openly gay president, but also the youngest.
Many were quick to call out Buttigieg’s comments as an unnecessary attack on queer media, including Out magazine editor Phillip Picardi who took to Twitter to express concern.
“When LGBTQ+ journalism is dwindling despite our rights being threatened at higher rates, why come for queer media?” Picardi tweeted.
Buttigieg declined to respond but Picardi’s question was put to him again in a video interview for BuzzFeed News’ AM2DM by the show’s co-host, Alex Berg.
Buttigieg then clarified his controversial statements and emphasised that while he understands the importance of queer media, he’s simply “frustrated” with its role in dictating the lives of community members – including himself.
“Just to be clear: LGBTQ media plays an increasingly important role, especially at a time like this. I had a grumpy moment where I was thinking about some of the coverage that I do get frustrated with that seems to tell people how to be gay,” Buttigieg said.
“And that’s, to be fair, happening in a lot of different sources and places online and in others, and it’s one reason why, as a candidate, it’s healthy just not to read too many clips about yourself to begin with,” he continued.
“But I don’t want to take away from the very good work that’s being done in the queer media right now.”
Buttigieg went on to discuss the criticism of his comments and stressed the importance of understanding the power of his own words, especially as a political figure.
“Everything you say is on the record and everything you say has an impact. It’s important to make sure you’re saying things the right way and that they have the right effect.”