Chasten Buttigieg detailed his campaign trail survival methods during a recent conversation with gay TV host Tommy DiDario on the YouTube show Let's Stay Together With Tommmy DiDario.
The husband of former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and former First Gentleman of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg came off as relaxed and well-rested. The former teacher’s demeanor was a contrast to his high-pressure, little-sleep life as a presidential candidate’s spouse, where he traveled around the nation campaigning and fundraising for his husband.
In the interview, he described how he and Mayor Pete were often “two ships in the night” during the campaign, usually connecting by text, phone, and occasionally FaceTime. Newly married when the mayor ran for president, “we lost out on a lot of precious time” when apart, Buttigieg told DiDario. “We’re making up for it now” and “relearning a lot of each other’s habits.”
DiDario inquired how Buttigieg kept his cool when he suddenly found himself thrust onto the national stage.
Initially, Buttigieg “felt like an imposter on the campaign trail.” He thought, “There’s no way I could have been a presidential candidate’s spouse; that’s not me.”
His confidence grew when he focused on his husband’s campaign and their ambition to make life better for Americans. “Standing with Pete was affirming, I realized you can be gay, married, and president.”
The critiques of his performance as a candidate’s spouse, including when he kissed his husband on stage during a rally, initially weighed on him. But he quickly stopped questioning himself and realized all he could do was be himself and hope that was enough.
“I never wanted to have won or lost playing a version of Chasten that wasn’t myself,” he told DiDario.
If people didn’t like him, he grew to not be bothered, telling DiDario that online criticism often comes from “people who don’t know you.”
Twitter is not real life, Buttigieg argued. “If you only allow Twitter to define your worldview, you’re missing out.”
“I will never look down on myself for not meeting the definition of some gatekeeper somewhere of whether I’m gay enough, not gay enough, or the vision of what a First Gentleman should be.”
Watch the full interview of Buttigieg below.