Pete Buttigieg announced the suspension of his presidential campaign on Sunday. The former South Bend, Indiana mayor told supporters that the best way to defeat Donald Trump is to “step aside and help bring our party and our country together.” He now endorses former Vice President Joe Biden for president, as does former candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Pete Buttigieg was a polarizing figure in the LGBTQ+ community. He certainly didn’t achieve universal support, as many voters felt that his platform was too moderate or conservative, regardless of his sexuality. He also endured homophobia from some conservative voters and politicians.
Nonetheless, Buttigieg’s campaign made history, and it will hopefully lead to more widespread inclusion for gay people in politics overall.
“By every historical measure, we were never supposed to get anywhere at all,” Buttigieg said on Sunday. “We send a message to every kid out there wondering if whatever marks them out as different means they are somehow destined to be less than. To see that someone who once felt that exact same way can become a leading American presidential candidate with his husband by his side.”
After Buttigieg’s announcement, LGBTQ+ people on social media reacted to the news with the viral hashtag #ThankYouPete. Andy Cohen and Billy Eichner chimed in, along with other Twitter users.
Mayor Pete showed a whole generation of LGBTQ Americans that anything is possible. #thankyoupete
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) March 2, 2020
As someone who’s dealt with fewer opportunities in my chosen industry for being openly gay years before that was welcome, I’m grateful to @PeteButtigieg & @Chas10Buttigieg for ignoring the odds & assumptions & creating a path for LGBTQ in politics that simply did not exist. 🙏🌈
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) March 2, 2020
You made me feel like my voice mattered.
You made me feel like what I did would make a change.
You literally saved my life.#ThankYouPete
— Denae 🐝🕶🥀 (@DenaePFA) March 2, 2020
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, tweeted that Buttigieg’s campaign “showed the world that Americans are ready to accept and embrace qualified LGBTQ public leaders.”
“His candidacy came after decades of LGBTQ Americans fighting to be heard, be visible, and have a place in the American experience,” Ellis wrote. “Pete’s success will no doubt lead to more LGBTQ candidates in political races large and small.”
Indeed, the Victory Fund, an organization that helps elect LGBTQ+ political candidates, says that they’ve noticed a real “Pete effect” in their work with potential candidates. “When our candidates see that, they think, ‘He can do it, I can do it, too,'” explained president and CEO Annise Parker.
Buttigieg was the Victory Fund’s first-ever presidential endorsement.
While Buttigieg had the support of the Victory Fund, GLAAD, and other leading LGBTQ+ organizations, he also had his fair share of LGBTQ+ critics. Groups like Queers Against Pete vocally disagreed with his campaign platform.
Buttigieg’s mixed reception is a lesson that LGBTQ+ people have a wide range of political beliefs, values, and identities. The more types of LGBTQ+ folks running for office, the better!