So some mayor dude from a city near where I live came out yesterday? And I think the things he talked about when this happened so are pretty interesting? So that’s what I’m going to post about today.
Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, one of Indiana’s largest cities, and you can read his coming out letter, titled “Why Coming Out Matters,” here. Unless you actually live in South Bend, I doubt you’ve ever heard of him – I hadn’t. But he came out via an op-ed article in his local newspaper, and when I read it, I found myself nodding along and going, “Ooh, he brings up a bunch of good points in just a few short paragraphs! Niiiice.”
Honestly, I think the main reason his op-ed piece had an impact on me is because he’s from my home state. Indiana is not a great place for LGBTQ+ people… actually, it’s terrible! We have barely any legal protections. (For example, Indiana has no state-wide laws against anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace.) It’s a super-conservative state, and this spring our governor signed the discriminatory RFRA bill into law.
…it probably takes a lot of guts to come out when one is an elected official in this state. That’s not really a job that lets you avoid people, you know? People who may make nasty comments and/or campaign against to ensure you won’t be reelected because they hate that you’re not straight like them. So I have a lot of respect for what he did.
Anyway, here are five things from his coming-out essay that really stood out to me.
1. He came out in writing
I literally JUST talked about this! Yesterday’s post was about why I think coming out via letter (or email, or text message) is a completely valid choice. So I’m pleased about this. Hey, if you feel that you can express yourself better through writing – as opposed to speaking – then go for it. WRITE ALL OF THE GAY THINGS.
2. He’s an elected official
And it’s really important for LGBTQ+ youth to see successful queer adults, because it shows them that A) they are not alone and B) someday they too can be happy and accomplished. Also, I think it’s super important for LGBTQ+ kids to be exposed to queer people who aren’t in the arts, because… like, the arts are great and everything, but sometimes it seems like there are very few queer people in anything besides the arts. I can’t imagine that lack of visibility is much fun for LGBTQ+ kids who are planning a career in government, science, et cetera.
3. He mentioned queer children
“But it’s clear to me that at a moment like this, being more open about it could do some good. For a local student struggling with her sexuality, it might be helpful for an openly gay mayor to send the message that her community will always have a place for her.”
One of the reasons he gives for coming out is that it could help kids and teens. THIS IS EXCELLENT. We need to rid ourselves of this idea that children can’t be queer and/or that this topic is inappropriate for wee ones, because otherwise we end up with high rates of suicide amongst LGBTQ+ teens… which is another thing Buttigieg discussed.
4. Discussed the statistics of being queer
“My high school in South Bend had nearly a thousand students. Statistically, that means that several dozen were gay or lesbian. Yet when I graduated in 2000, I had yet to encounter a single openly LGBT student there.”
No so fond of how he reduces the LGBTQ+ acronym to ‘gay or lesbian,’ but whatever. He does bring up the statistics of being queer, which is pretty awesome because I think a lot of people don’t know the probability that someone is LGBTQ+: It’s 1 in 10.
(A fact that gives me endless entertainment when I’m in public, because I’ll look around me and wonder what the probability of the person next to me being queer is. #easilyamused)
5. Reminded us that marriage equality isn’t the only issue
“Any day now, the Supreme Court will issue a decision on same-sex marriage that will directly affect millions of Americans. It comes at a time of growing public acceptance and support for equal rights.
But no matter what the Court does, issues of equality are hardly settled across the country. Today it remains legal in most parts of Indiana (though not South Bend) to fire someone simply for being gay, and bullying still contributes to tragically high suicide rates among LGBT teens.”
It’s all too easy to look at the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement and think that marriage equality is the only issue that needs solving, or that we’re even anywhere close to achieving total equality. And I just… I have a lot of respect for people who push back against this and point out that the issue of our rights is, as he puts it, “hardly settled.”
I’m sorry if this bored anyone… I know it’s only local news, but it made me think and he explained himself pretty well and… I don’t know. I’m trying to write about a variety of LGBTQ+ topics this month (and on this blog in general). And I need not always write about Big Ideas… or fiction! I publish a disproportionate amount of posts about LGBTQ+ fiction, oops… right? I can write about the everyday and the mundane and the local stuff too.