When former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, became the first openly gay candidate from a major political party to launch a bid for the presidency, America was introduced to his husband, Chasten Buttigieg (né Glezman). If Buttigieg had won, Chasten would have become the country’s inaugural “First Gentleman.” The politician eventually dropped out of the Democratic race in March 2020 following a “crushing loss” in the South Carolina primary, The New York Times reported, however, his and Chasten’s notoriety has yet to fade. Pete may not have made this dream of becoming the first openly gay President of the United States a reality (for now!), but his story has inspired millions of Americans. So did Chasten’s, as he quickly became a popular figure due to his compelling personal story and public support of Buttigieg.
Keep reading to find out the truth about Pete Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, including the junior high school teacher’s coming out story, how Pete has supported him, and why growing up in a “socially conservative” place was really difficult.
Chasten Buttigieg grew up in a 'socially conservative' place
Chasten Buttigieg grew up in Traverse City, Mich., a place he described as “socially conservative” in a February 2020 interview with ABC News‘ Linsey Davis. “I went to a school where, you know, if you weren’t on the football team or one of the jocks that, you know, you were picked on and bullied and belittled,” he explained. Unfortunately, being gay made it a lot more difficult for him, and when he told his parents about his sexuality, he felt like he had no choice but to run away from home. As a result, he became homeless and often slept in the back of his car.
“When I came out, I was certain that I’d lose everything,” Chasten shared. “I was so certain that I would be a disappointment to my family and my community and my church and my friends that rather than stick around and find out if I was going to be OK, I ran away from it. Sometimes I slept on my friend’s couches and floors, and sometimes I felt like I was a burden even on my friends. And so, I would just sleep in the back of my car.”
“I don’t recall my parents specifically saying I couldn’t live at home anymore, but I was made to believe I needed to leave,” he told The New York Times in 2018.
Chasten Buttigieg eventually made up with his parents
Chasten Buttigieg told ABC News that he eventually made up with his parents, and their relationship improved over time. His mother also asked him to come back home. Things between them were so good that, when he married Peter Buttigieg in 2018, Chasten said his parents “proudly” walked him down the aisle. Unfortunately, it’s not the same for his brothers, who, as The Washington Post reported, have yet to accept his sexuality.
Despite his strained relationship with his siblings, Chasten knows his coming out story differs from other people’s, which is why he’s careful when telling it to LGBTQ+ youth. “I have a happy ending to that story. I got to go home,” he told the news outlet. “I got to go home to two loving parents who were terrified for me because they loved me. But they knew it was gonna be hard. And I’m very, very lucky. Not every kid has that story.”
Chasten Buttigieg felt 'shame' after being sexually assaulted
In a 2019 interview with The Washington Post, Chasten Buttigieg claimed he was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance at a house party when he was a teenager. He said that the person who took advantage of him was a friend of a friend, but he never told anyone in fear that they would not believe him.
“I was young. I was 18. And I remember somehow feeling like my parents would be so disappointed in me and I don’t know what it was about society that made me feel somehow that I had done something wrong,” he told ABC News in February 2020. “And to feel such shame and guilt for somebody else taking advantage of me.” He added, “I’m so grateful for everyone who has spoken up [amid the #MeToo movement] because it made me feel less alone, too. As somebody who held on to that for a really long time, and unfortunately, that shaped me in a really negative way [with] trying to open up to love.”
Chasten went on to say that he shared his story with his husband, Pete Buttigieg, very early in their relationship. “It was the first time I really felt like someone got it, and understood how difficult maybe a touch on the shoulder could be for somebody who had that experience,” he explained.
Chasten Buttigieg was a middle school teacher
Before Chasten Buttigieg decided to join his husband Pete Buttigieg on the campaign trail full-time in 2019, he was middle school humanities and drama teacher at a Mishawaka, Ind. Montessori school for two years, according to Business Insider. Per the couple’s 2018 wedding announcement in The New York Times, he got his master’s in education at DePaul University after getting his BA from the University of Wisconsin.
According to the Indianapolis Star, Chasten still works part-time at the South Bend Civic Theatre as the Director of Curriculum. He also tweeted about getting back to “work” on May 15, 2019, writing, “I got back to work at the South Bend Civic Theatre yesterday, and by work, I mean play. We spent some time as a community discussing the importance of theater and the necessary push for arts inclusive education. We also just had a lot of fun playing ‘escape from planet lava.'”
In April 2019, Chasten said his high school drama teacher inspired him to become an educator. “Many of us know the loneliness that comes with coming out,” he said during the Human Rights Campaign speech. “She knew I needed a place to feel safe. She let me hide in the auditorium on tougher days. She’s the reason I’m a teacher, why I studied theater education and why I advocate for the arts today.”
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN.org for additional resources.
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