Queer Activists Disrupt Buttigieg Fundraiser

Do gay candidates have a special obligation to be leftists?

Do gay candidates have a special obligation?

A bizarre story out of San Francisco:

At the center of San Francisco’s National LGBTQ Center for the Arts, two queer activists stood up and disrupted a private fundraiser for Pete Buttigieg after he received a question from the audience about his husband, Chasten.

The packed room quickly booed down the activists, drowning out their pointed questions on Friday with chants of “Boot-Edge-Edge! Boot-Edge-Edge!” as they were escorted out of the building.

“I respect your activism, but this is a gathering for supporters of our campaign and I just got a question about my husband and I’m really excited to answer it,” Buttigieg quipped from stage, drawing strong applause from the crowd.

The activists were part of a group protesting outside the event that reflected a growing disquiet among the LBGTQ+ community when it came to the Buttigieg campaign. Buttigieg may be the first openly gay candidate to sweep the national stage and perform as well as he has in Iowa and New Hampshire, but more and more young queer voters say they feel he is not representative of them or their experiences.

“I’m definitely proud of the fact that a gay candidate has made it thus far, but it’s hard to enjoy or appreciate when his stances are so middle of the road and speak to a predominantly white, upper class audience,” Celi Tamayo-Lee, one of the activists escorted out of the fundraiser, said in an interview before the event.

Friday’s protesters cited many of the same issues that members of the LGBTQ+ community nationwide say are giving them pause – Buttigieg’s unwillingness to support Medicare for All, free college for all, his issues with communities of color, his ties to billionaire donors – all issues that are not specific to the LGBTQ+ community but still affect them at certain intersections.

“We need better, we deserve better,” Adiel Pollydore, a 26-year-old program director with Student Action who is black and queer, told the Guardian. “There’s a level of irony that this event costs hundreds of dollars to attend in the Mission, a historically Latinx and immigrant neighborhood. What does it say that this event is not accessible to the folks that live in the neighborhood where it’s being held?”

Almost by definition, Presidential campaign fundraisers aren’t “accessible.” Although, in this case, the price of entry was $250—hardly a king’s ransom.

Granting that one shouldn’t read too much into the rantings of lunatic activists, I’m bemused by the notion that, because Buttigieg is gay, he’s therefore somehow required to adopt a far-left agenda. Or, for that matter, that gay activists should somehow have to vote for the only openly gay candidate in the race if they prefer the platform of other candidates on offer.

If you don’t like Buttigieg, vote for Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren—who in fact support the issues you’re bitching about—in the California primary on March 3.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Gender Issues, LGBT Rights, Pete Buttigieg
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Stormy Dragon says:

    Just for the record, I’m an LGBT person who will is willing to accept ties to billionaire donors. =)

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  2. MarkedMan says:

    This drew about ten different reactions from me (none of them favorable to the agitators) but this was the last one: They couldn’t have done a better job of helping Pete out with those voters who aren’t too sure about all this homosexual stuff. The fact that these clowns who reinforce every negative stereotype are protesting that nice young man, well, maybe he’s not so bad after all.

    10
  3. CSK says:

    This has been an issue for Buttigieg for a while, and he clearly finds it frustrating and exasperating. As he told an interviewer last September: “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 LGBTQ media anymore because it’s all ‘he’s too gay, not gay enough, wrong kind of gay.'”

    8
  4. Jay L Gischer says:

    If Pete’s gonna be president, he’s going to have to be able to handle this sort of thing with a little grace, even. It seems he can, and that’s a good sign.

    I have one friend – mostly an online friend – who is gay, but who told me he doesn’t feel like he’s “gay”, in that he’s not a member of the club or something. I think that as we move more toward acceptance, this is a growing pain that the gay community is going to feel more and more – there are very different people who are gay, and they don’t all think the same or have the same spokesperson.

    And those of us who are straight need to be careful not to turn Pete into a spokesperson for all gay people. You know, “if Pete thinks X, then all gay people must think X”. I’ve had (of all things! ) people try to turn me into a spokesperson for white males, and I don’t want that job.

    4
  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    This is the kind of activism that earns derision as virtue signaling. The objections they raise are idiotic. I’m so weary of the eternal search for something new to be outraged about. Outrage has become an occupation, a lifestyle, a raison d’être. It’s not about actually accomplishing anything, it’s, ‘Look at me! Look at me! I’m king of Woke Mountain!’

    Whining that Buttigieg is holding a $250 fundraiser is asinine. The Mission stopped being the Mission a long time ago, it is now infested with tech bros and expensive restaurants. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in SF is $3438 as of now, and the Mission is not the cheapest neighborhood in the city. Hasn’t been for some time.

    In the bottomless Pez dispenser of grievance this is way, way down there.

    17
  6. Jim Brown 32 says:

    In a saner world, people would identify with tangible values rather than characteristics that say nothing about their true person.

    Unfortunately, we all have to navigate human terrain filled with people that need labels so they dont have to do the work of making up their own minds about their fellow humans. Internally we dont have to identify with these label. I see myself as at least 2 other things before I get to black man. 4 or 5 before get to heterosexual man. Those are some of the least informative characteristics about me. Activists such as these, in my opinion, have been brainwashed. Sure, these identities are useful for identifying allies to a cause…they, quite frankly, are useless in persuading others that the cause is righteousness and worthwhile.

    8
  7. James Joyner says:

    @Jim Brown 32: So, I get why LGBTQ+ folks would choose that as their primary political identity—especially those further to the right in the initialism. It’s where they face the most legal obstacles and where organizing politically can make their lives most better.

    But I can’t imagine that there’s a candidate running who’s more sympathetic to LGBTQ+ rights than Buttigieg. And all of the candidates are more sympathetic and likely to help them on that front that Trump.

    Beyond that, I can’t for the life of me figure out why M4A, free college, etc. are LGBTQ+ issues. I can understand why individuals in the community would care about those issues. But I don’t understand why Buttigieg is supposed to join them just because he prefers dudes.

    9
  8. grumpy realist says:

    Haven’t these clowns have heard “The Perfect is the enemy of the Good.”

    Whiny brats. I suppose they’d prefer having Trump re-elected because then they can rage without actually having to do something to their little hearts’ content.

    5
  9. Jen says:

    Loonies.

    This is why the phrase “the gay agenda” as used by conservatives denigrating LGBTQ issues is so laughable. There are a category of legal issues that are specific to the LGBTQ community, but aside from that, these are individuals who will have varying viewpoints on a whole host of topics.

    They did this because they knew it would get press coverage, and because Pete isn’t left enough for them. Fine! Lots of other options on the ballot, nincompoops.

    5
  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    Spot on.

    Ideas and beliefs unite, identity balkanizes. In a country that is 60% white and 90+% straight, identity politics inevitably helps the largest identity groups. Which are, again, white folks and straight folks. The logical argument for a minority is that race/gender whatever, is and should be, irrelevant. Identity politics is a tool of the majority.

    4
  11. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    Beyond that, I can’t for the life of me figure out why M4A, free college, etc. are LGBTQ+ issues. I can understand why individuals in the community would care about those issues.

    A lot of gay kids get kicked out of their homes when their parents find out, or are otherwise cut off from their families. College can become unaffordable.

    Truvada, a drug that pretty much ensures you will not get HIV and which is recommended for anyone in a high HIV community, and which has brought the HIV epidemic under control, costs about $2,000 a month.

    So, there’s a tendency to favor a strong social safety net.

    But I don’t understand why Buttigieg is supposed to join them just because he prefers dudes.

    He may prefer dudes, but does he prefer The Dude, The Duderino, The Big Lebowski?

    4
  12. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    does he prefer The Dude, The Duderino, The Big Lebowski?

    The entire point of the movie is that The Dude is NOT The Big Lebowski.

    What are you, some kind of nihilist?

    3
  13. wr says:

    Seems to me that for all the philosophizing going on around here, we’re talking about two people making jerks of themselves. It’s not “the left,” it’s not “woke culture,” it’s not “brainwashing” — which is apparently the only way in which people have different priorities than some posters here — it’s two assclowns.

    For all the screaming and crying about the evils of cancel culture and the rest, a lot of it wouldn’t matter at all if we didn’t feel compelled to start rending our garments when two people out of 350,000,000 have an opinion and feel entitled to shout it in a candidate’s face.

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  14. CSK says:

    @wr:
    Overall, it seems to be more than two LGBTQ people who object to Buttigieg. I mentioned above his understandable irritation and frustration with not being considered sufficiently gay or considered gay in the “wrong” way by some LGBTQ people. What’s the “right” way to be gay? Beats me.

    7
  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:
    There’s no such thing as one or two ass-clowns unless they don’t have access to Twitter. One or two is all it takes to start a Twitter storm, if their identity-based opinions mirror or can be assumed to mirror those of the larger identity community.

    I see no evidence that this has gained traction on Twitter. It won’t unless a major influencer decides to make it an issue, at which point members of the relevant identity group either push back and are canceled as heretics, goes along, or shuts up and disappears.

    There have been articles on the toxic culture in YA lit. You know what it took to generate that toxicity? Two women. Just two, one a pretty good writer, the other an idiot ‘academic.’ Because that is the way it works now. Writers literally cannot discuss issues amongst themselves, it is submit to every last detail of the consensus, or die. The degree of conformity would embarrass a Maoist.

    It’s slowly getting better, but very slowly. And my concern, and cynical expectation, is that it will result in the creation of a parallel ‘community’ espousing genuinely unpleasant ideas and beyond the influence of the bien pensants. . See also: Trump.

    3
  16. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Isn’t the whole point of this that Buttigieg would prefer The Big Lebowski to The Dude?

    1
  17. Bill says:

    I want everyone like me, 55+ year old right handed straight male, who has been to all 50 United States and over a dozen countries, registered democrat writer of LGBT fiction, husband of a Filipina, bingo player, 10+ year survivor of stage 4 cancer, golf and ice hockey fan, and eater of vanilla ice cream to think exactly like me.

    Can somebody please find some else who fits all of those criteria?

    My wife has a saying- Don’t tell me what to do. I am not a kindergarten.

    2
  18. Sleeping Dog says:

    Over at the Atlantic, John McWorter discusses another candidate with a wokeness problem. As someone mentioned, the perfect being the enemy of the good.

    In 2016, I did run across a few erstwhile Bernie supporters who stated Tiny would be better than Hillary, I wonder what they think now?

    1
  19. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    I doubt it. Buttigieg is not as far left as Warren or Sanders, yes, but he’d still be the most left wing President in US history.

    That sort of “hurrhurrhurr, Buttigieg’d be just like the bad guy in The Big Lebowski” is exactly the sort of boy crying wolf that’s going to end up with Bloomberg being the nominee.

    1
  20. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    You’re right.

    Racial identity politics when the DNC of the 70s made a play to trade the southern racist vote for the nationwide black vote made sense. It was a net plus. The RNC caught on and played the same game with the largest identity group in the country…effectively betting that its easier to craft a unifying message and turnout voters for one group…than it is for 5-6 disparate but allied groups.

    The environment is ripe for new campaign and platform innovations that force identity voters to recalculate their decision calculus. If I’m the national DNC, I’d start encouraging the State parties to experiment in rural and southern areas to get some data on what some of these new tactics might be. As it stands now, the Dems need a generational talent to sell their message nationally whereas the opposite is true for the Republican candidate. This is a paradigm that, again, presents a harder road for a Democratic candidate. Obama’s and Clinton’s dont grow on trees.

    3
  21. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Buttigieg is not as far left as Warren or Sanders, yes, but he’d still be the most left wing President in US history.

    The most left leaning in my lifetime, perhaps, but he’s no Roosevelt. He’s no LBJ. Not even sure he would’ve further left than Obama — he would just be in a better position to get a public option done, since society moved further along.

    But I was really just thinking about how little use he would have for a slacker in his life. Although I could see a McKinsey level rationalization “on average, we are 30% more ambitious than most Americans”

    4
  22. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    But The Big Lebowski was also a slacker. He was just a phony slacker who tried to act like he wasn’t.

  23. Gustopher says:

    @Jim Brown 32: People vote their identity.

    Let’s take James Joyner as an example — if part of his identity wasn’t White Republican Male With Military Background, he probably would have jumped off the Republican train before Trump.

    If a generic Republican had picked Palin as a running mate, I don’t think he would have been on board for that. But it wasn’t a generic Republican, it was War Hero John McCain.

    Maybe I’m reading our host wrong. Maybe I’m just using him as an example we all know, and placing behavior and motivations I’ve seen other people display onto him.

    He also is … slow … on issues that aren’t directly related to his identity. He’s not a bad guy, but others’ experiences with discrimination don’t really resonate with him.

    I don’t think Democrats need a special policy for the James Joyners of the world to bring them into the big tent, but we do need to show why our policies help people of him, and how they are consistent with his identity.

    If we protect the rights of women in the workplace, we are protecting his daughters.

    If we are ensuring that transgender folks have access to health care, we are ensuring that government policies won’t interfere with his healthcare.

    And, if we are protecting the rights of wheelchair bound, Muslim, transexual, polyamorous, demisexual furries we are protecting everyone’s rights, because frankly that’s as weird as it gets.

    We aren’t making that argument, and that’s a shame.

    ——
    I have no knowledge of Mr. Joyner’s views on wheelchair bound, Muslim, transexual, polyamorous, demisexual furries, but I suspect it would initially be discomfort, eventually shifting to “oh, god, whatever”, with a stop at “is dressing like a cartoon wolf really appropriate business attire?”

    But, again, I may be projecting the views of others onto him.

    13
  24. Mu Yixiao says:

    @wr:

    Seems to me that for all the philosophizing going on around here, we’re talking about two people making jerks of themselves. It’s not “the left,” it’s not “woke culture,” it’s not “brainwashing” — which is apparently the only way in which people have different priorities than some posters here — it’s two assclowns.

    This instance is two assclowns. They don’t represent the majority–they don’t even represent the general minority. But they are representative of a larger (in relation to “two assclowns”)–and very vocal–segment of the population.

    The problem is that some people want to be angry about things. They want to “rage against the machine”. The problem is that most of the great injustices have been dealt with, so they have to get more precise in their outrage.

    I read a column back in the mid-90’s (perhaps by Leonard Pitts?) discussing “black activism”. In it, he quoted an older black man who was active in the civil rights movement. (paraphrasing): “We were fighting a cancer; you’re getting up in arms about the sniffles.”

    We have an openly-gay, married-to-a-man, Navy veteran running for President of the United States. And he’s a serious contender. I remember when Geraldine Ferraro as a VP candidate was almost scandalous.

    The problem isn’t that there’s a couple assclowns out there. The first problem is that a small, but active and significant, segment of the population is getting hardcore about “identity politics” and all the “woke” BS–and they are far more likely to show up at the polls than those who believe in “live and let live”.

    The second problem is that the media (in their hunger for clicks) gives them screen time and presents their BS as valid.

    I sincerely believe that every political candidate should take a 10-hour course with a successful comedian on how to deal with hecklers.

    7
  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: who’s the writer?

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: I’m a bit uncomfortable with a psychological discussion of someone who is sitting right at the bar with us.

    5
  27. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mu Yixiao:..I sincerely believe that every political candidate should take a 10-hour course with a successful comedian on how to deal with hecklers.

    As long as it’s not Michael Richards…

    4
  28. Matt says:

    @MarkedMan: That’s basically my thought process too. They are doing Pete a favor by protesting him.

    There’s definitely a disconnect forming between the younger LGBT people and the older ones like Pete and I. When Pete and I were young it was litterly a threat to your life if people found out you were gay. Getting kicked out of your family unit sucked but the beatings from groups of homophobes was certainly worse. The joys of living in a rural small town among a sea of red..

    5
  29. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: Point taken, but he makes a convenient common point of reference, with a very public evolution over the past ten years or so — plus he’s at the bar so he can correct me or say “knock it off”.

    And I would say that we all have things that we have incorporated into our identity, as a hard time seeing the things that aren’t.

    1
  30. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    The most left leaning in my lifetime, perhaps, but he’s no Roosevelt. He’s no LBJ.

    In terms of their policy proposals or where they were commonly viewed on the ideological spectrum at the time, FDR was no FDR in 1932, either, and LBJ was most definitely no LBJ in 1960.

    3
  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I’m not getting into naming names. I don’t need the three days of abusive, and obscene name-calling that would ensue. I’m the fuck out of YA, a decision that has been nothing but good.

    There are people who insist on their right to live in a dump, and then there are people who GTFO. I am an overachiever when it comes to GTFO – high school, my family, jail, any number of jobs – and I have never regretted a one. I know the world needs people who want to fight for their sod hut in Nebraska, but if I may appropriate some Bob Dylan, that ain’t me, babe, no, no, no, that ain’t me, babe.

    YA lit and publishing in general is slowly returning to normal. The book burners, er, book banners, have failed in several recent attempts. Some publishers have relocated their spines. And on most points my arguments have become grudgingly accepted, not that I’ll be forgiven for figuring things out too early. It’s never a good idea to be right before the rest of the class.

    2
  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    People vote their identity.

    I don’t. I’m a well-off, elderly, straight white male, and I regularly vote against my own economic self-interests. I donate to candidates who openly announce that they’re going to take more of my money. I vote for truth, justice, freedom and kindness. I frankly despise people who vote their ‘identity.’ It’s not supposed to be a spoils system, give me mine, give me more, me, me, me. We’re meant to be preserving and protecting the constitution and the ideals that are the definition of the United States.

    7
  33. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I don’t. I’m a well-off, elderly, straight white male, and I regularly vote against my own economic self-interests.

    Are your economic self-interests your identity?

    Read @your post right before where you say that, and then ask yourself what your identity is and how it was formed.

    4
  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:
    You worship a corrupt, treasonous, pathological liar and wanna-be caudillo. STFU.

    9
  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    You’re stretching identity to the point of meaninglessness. You might as well say we all vote the way we feel like voting.

  36. An Interested Party says:

    But the activists live on the left side, people. Control your own.

    If only the right side would do the same, we’d be better off as a country…

    2
  37. Kylopod says:

    @Guarneri: Well our nuts heckle candidates, yours run the country. Definitely a draw.

    5
  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Geraldine Ferraro was scandalous because her husband was thought to be mobbed up, and she wasn’t able to defuse the accusation credibly. Your point is good, but Ferraro is not exemplary.

  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: Did Michael Richards become a successful comedian? I must have missed that. 😀

  40. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You’re stretching identity to the point of meaninglessness. You might as well say we all vote the way we feel like voting.

    Pfft. Break the age, gender, income, race distributions into five sections and you have most people figured out pretty well. People tell themselves stories about themselves, and they are going to have a very hard time voting against that story.

    But, there aren’t that many stories. Everyone wants to believe that they are the outlier, but they’re not. But, I’ll tell you what — you’re the outlier (you crazy freak), but 90-95% of people can be broken into a handful of groupings. Overlapping identities that we value at different levels, and which can be activated to short circuit thought.

    The far right and the Russians used micro-targeted ads to spread hatred and fear in 2016. It was a fine grained identity politics and it was effective.

    But it can also be used effectively to tie Democratic policies to a person’s values. Will it suddenly make the black guy who thinks his civil rights are being taken for granted embrace trans rights? No, probably not, but it can blunt the resentment.

    Identity politics is just advertising. And it works if you’re good at it, and if you target people well. There’s not a black vote, and a queer vote, and a white working class vote, and a middle-class suburban women’s vote, and a rural vote — the voters there are not monolithic, but they fall into some pretty significant groupings.

    I mean, it will never work on you, because you’re an iconoclast free-thinker whose above all of that, who just happens to like that nice clean-cut young man from South Bend who speaks 6 languages and was in the Navy and who married that nice boy Chasten and who is the very model of meritocracy in a world run by incompetents… But most people aren’t that deep.

    (I like Mayor Pete because I’ve been trained by decades of NPR to like exactly like Mayor Pete… The time he was on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! was excellent)

    2
  41. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You might as well say we all vote the way we feel like voting.

    Also, yes. But we then construct a framework of reasons around it to convince ourselves that it was a rational and considered choice… that just happened to match our initial feeling.

  42. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Fair enough. 3 days abuse is way overpriced to satisfy my casual curiosity…

  43. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher:

    If a generic Republican had picked Palin as a running mate, I don’t think he would have been on board for that. But it wasn’t a generic Republican, it was War Hero John McCain.

    I’ve acknowledged many times over the years that there’s a tribal aspect of voting. WRT Palin, I was excoriating the choice in real time and noted literally within minutes of confirmation she was the pick—and before I knew how bad she really was—that Obama’s choice of Biden was way better. But there were nonetheless plenty of reasons to prefer the experienced McCain to the neophyte Obama.

    The Romney vote in 2012 was actually much harder but there were personal loyalties that made switching sides in that one nearly impossible. I explained that and addressed the larger issue in your comment in this 2012 post-mortem.

    I have no knowledge of Mr. Joyner’s views on wheelchair bound, Muslim, transexual, polyamorous, demisexual furries, but I suspect it would initially be discomfort, eventually shifting to “oh, god, whatever”, with a stop at “is dressing like a cartoon wolf really appropriate business attire?”

    I’m not sure what the point is here. While I’ve never been big-L libertarian, my general position on these things is that people ought to be free to do what they want in the privacy of their homes. All of those groups are and should be protected under the Constitution. But, yes, businesses should be able to set dress codes.

  44. grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You’ve reminded me of a comment a friend keeps saying:”You can tell the pioneers by the arrows in their backs.”

    1