"Jesus, please remove from me all of my homosexual tendencies and replace them with heterosexual tendencies."
This was the mantra. Hundreds of times a day since my first sexual awakening during the speed bike scene on Endor in Return of the Jedi.
Obviously, I knew God was a stickler for phrasing and syntax at a young age because of my very churched upbringing, and what followed was more than a decade of praying that idiot 11-year-old's prayer; for the next 13 years until I came out, fully and vocally, as bisexual. That's the "B" in the LGBTQIA+, for those of you playing the game at home.
I came out after spending most of college—and a few years post-college—as one of those chickenshit, "Its nobody's business!" types but, since then, life has never been better for this li'l bi bottom. Oh, except for the fact that the tribe I was once too cowardly to name myself a part of faces constant murderous and unaccountable violence every day; from Santa Fe to Singapore, from Mecca to Kuala Lumpur.
And this brings me to Mayor Pete Buttigieg, but first, an obligatory
I am white.
I am cis.
I am male.
I grew up on the rich-bitch side of town and attended Santa Fe Prep. I do not claim to speak for the greater queer community— or anybody else, really. This is just one faggot's voice thrust onto the pages of your local paper. And "faggot," by the way, is my word and I can use it—just as it was used against me.
But I digress.
Mayor Pete. Oh, Mayor Pete. Where to begin?
First of all, I want to live in the world where I can write him off as a milquetoast candidate offering more platitudes than policies. I want to live in the world where nothing distracts me from my full-on Stan of Elizabeth Warren, who is a moral leader our time desperately needs. I want to live in a world where a wholesome gay family broadcast into every willing television in America is just a matter of course.
Sadly, however, not one of us lives in that world.
We live in the world where Saudi Arabia, the country we apparently just have to sell bombs to, beheaded five men who "confessed" to being gay under torture in April. We live in the world where queer
people risk death simply by existing in Kenya and numerous other African countries.
We live in the world where black trans women are murdered on American soil—at least 10 so far in 2019 alone, as of this writing—and nobody has been arrested. I invite you to guess just how rigorously the various local authorities are investigating the matter of our non-binary fellows being brutally killed.
Because we live in the world where the executive branch of the United States wants doctors to be able to refuse treatment to our trans siblings and force those with a uterus to give birth against their will or face possible incarceration. Or death.
And into this world, this nightmare of inhumane bullshit, steps Mayor Pete.
Buttigieg comes to us a two-term mayor, an Army veteran of our endless wars, a snappy piano player, a linguist, and a nice, clean-cut, well-spoken, young white man with a lovely family and adorable dogs. Mayor Pete seems tailor-made to reassure frightened elders that, yes, the queers are people too, and not mere deviants. Standing on the shoulders of Pride's history—the people of color and the trans women and people of all genders (or no genders) who rioted against NYPD brutality 50 years ago—Mayor Pete declares that us queers like dogs and ice cream—just like the rest of you.
And it's nice. And it's fuzzy. And it's plain. And it's boring. And it's … fairly unremarkable.
In fairness, Mayor Pete advocates abolishing the antiquated and ineffective Electoral College, eliminating the filibuster in the US Senate and radically reorganizing the composition of the Supreme Court. These aren't exactly half-assed positions, and he has also openly called for the president's impeachment. Again, I want to live in the world where even those proposals are worthy, but the world in which we live requires us to be better than we have ever been. It requires those of us with privilege to put our bodies on the line. It requires so many things of all of us at all times that it is difficult to see the majesty of a gay family openly campaigning for the presidency.
It matters that they can see us striving for leadership of this country, and it matters that all the little closeted Pentecostals, like my former self, can see an unapologetic gay man in the public eye. It matters that his sexuality is being discussed less and less with the exception of the cult-style preachers. All of it matters. It matters because we live in the world where our very existence is a political act, but I want to live in the world where it really doesn't have to be.
Winston Shaw is an attorney living in Santa Fe and alumnus of Santa Fe Prep, Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Colorado, Boulder. He moved back to Santa Fe last October and has been a professionally hopeful misanthrope since.