Pete Buttigieg has seen that video of Kevin Hart repeatedly interrupting Lil Nas X as he attempts to discuss coming out as a gay man in hip-hop, and he has thoughts.
On Friday, the 2020 candidate sat down with The Breakfast Club radio show to discuss running for the White House as an out gay man and what Black Americans could expect from a President Buttigieg. While discussing his agenda, Buttigieg was asked about the recent controversy in which Hart was accused of “gaslighting” Lil Nas X as the rapper discussed the internalized homophobia he battled in making the decision to be open about his personal life.
“I’m growing up to hate this shit,” Lil Nas X said of the lessons he learned about LGBTQ+ people during his childhood.
Earlier in the conversation, Hart showed his hand by saying “So what?” when the subject of Lil Nas X’s sexual orientation came up. But when the hip-hop artist began to discuss his own journey of coming to terms with his identity, the comedian became visibly uncomfortable. “Hate what?” he said, cutting Lil Nas X off.
“If you’re really from the hood, you know,” the rapper responded.
Buttigieg said the exchange was all-too familiar for many people in the LGBTQ+ community. What bothered him about Hart’s response “was the fact that he found it necessary to interrupt Lil Nas X, jump in, and let everybody know that he doesn’t care,” the candidate said.
“A lot of gay people hear that and hear something that might not be that different than what some folks hear when they hear somebody say, ‘I don’t see color,’” he continued.
Buttigieg also remarked that Lil Nas X “downplayed” the importance of his own coming out. The 20-year-old opened up about his sexuality in June even as his viral breakout smash, “Old Town Road,” sat on top the Billboard Hot 100 for its record-breaking run. He claimed the musician had “a lot to lose” by coming out at the exact moment when his career is starting to take off.
“He took that step and that took a lot of courage,” he said. “When somebody finds it necessary to wave their arms and jump up and down telling you how much this isn’t a thing for them, it makes you wonder whether they’re being honest with themselves.”
According to Buttigieg, he has some personal experience with situations like these. After he came out as gay during his second term as mayor of South Bend, he claimed that he and his husband, Chasten, had to figure out “how to be a couple” in a largely conservative state. Indiana would go onto vote 56 percent for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, one year after Buttigieg's coming out op-ed was published.
Buttigieg recalled that — at first — many people simply didn’t “know how to deal” with their relationship.
“[W]e found that we could act just like any other couple, invite people to treat us that way, and for the most part they did, but we weren’t blind to the fact that that was a big deal for other people, even in their own minds,” he said. “They were going through the process of treating this like it wasn’t a big deal. That might have been a big deal for them.”
“So in the same way we can’t pretend that identities don’t exist, we can’t pretend this isn’t a thing,” Buttigieg added. “It’s just to make sure we have a way of going through to where it’s not the only thing.”
However, the White House hopeful — who is just the second out gay man to run for president — believes his career is a sign that people can change. Buttigieg wound up “getting re-elected in Indiana in a socially conservative community while Mike Pence was the governor of our state,” he said.
“I got 80 percent,” Buttigieg added.
The candidate also said he believes that America — like South Bend — is ready to elect an out gay politician to its highest office. “You’re not going to get everybody,” he claimed, “but most people, yeah, I think so.”