Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, opened up this week about the struggles he faced after coming out as gay to his family.
Buttigieg told The Washington Post in an interview published Thursday that he stood out among his brothers early on in their childhood.
Unlike his older siblings who played sports and hunted, Buttigieg said he often would be “inside reading Harry Potter or singing Celine Dion at the top of my lungs while my mom and I were dusting the cabinets.”
By adolescence, Buttigieg told the Post he started realizing he was attracted to men.
“He didn’t tell anyone — out of a class of 500 at his public high school, he says, there were zero students who openly identified as LGBTQ — but people suspected. He still remembers being bullied, called homophobic slurs, getting flung around by his backpack. He applied to an exchange program and escaped to Germany for his senior year. ‘The further away I could get,’ he says, ‘the safer I felt,” the Post reported.
After graduating from high school, Buttigieg said he sat with his family in their home that summer and had them read a letter he wrote coming out about his sexuality.
“I remember my mom crying and the first thing she asked me was if I was sick. I think she meant, like, did I have AIDS?” he told the Post.
Buttigieg described a silence falling over his family at the time before one of his brothers started to say: “No brother of mine …”
He packed his bags and left shortly after.
“I felt like I just could not be there,” he told the Post.
Buttigieg said he began to sleep at some of his friends’ homes and in the parking lot of the community college he attended.
A few months later, he received a call from his mother asking him to come home.
“She said, ‘Will you come home?’” Buttigieg said. “And I cried and I went home immediately.”
Buttigieg said he and his parents were able to reconcile their views on his sexual orientation.
When he married South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg last year, Chasten said his parents attended the ceremony and even walked him down the aisle.
However, his brothers Rhyan and Dustin Glezman “never got over it,” Chasten said.
Rhyan Glezman, the pastor of a Christian church in Clio, Mich., told the newspaper that he wants “the best” for his brother, but added, “I just don’t support the gay lifestyle,” despite the couple’s recent marriage.