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Buttigieg on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and becoming ‘whole’ after coming out

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Organizers of the first LGBTQ Presidential Forum in Iowa did not publicize the fact that their historic Sept. 20 forum lands on the same day eight years ago that the repeal of the horrific anti-LGBT Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was finally enacted. But South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg remembered. In fact, the day holds a very personal meaning for him as he writes in a post on Medium.

In fact, the day should hold meaning for all LGBTQ patriots and allies since President Donald Trump rescinded plans to lift the ban on transgender servicemembers serving openly in the US armed forces, prompting Marine Corps veteran Stephen Peters, director of communications for Modern Military Association of America, to note in an Advocate op-ed “We’re Fighting a New ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ All Over Again.

Last year, the Los Angeles Blade featured an extended Military Special commemorating the day President Obama signed the Repeal of DADT, on Dec. 20, 2010. In it, the Blade noted how long LGBTQ people have been serving in the military and why the ban was so unjust.

Obama also remembered, posting on the White House website on Sept. 20, 2011, in part: “Today, the discriminatory law known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is finally and formally repealed.  As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love.  As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply values your service.”

For Buttigieg, the only presidential candidate with military experience, deploying to a war zone while still in the closet was a rude and painful awakening.

Here is Buttigieg’s essay, as posted today on Medium:

On the day before my deployment to Afghanistan, I wrote a letter. It was for my family in the event that I didn’t come home, a 32-year-old man’s attempt to make sense of a short but very full life. Writing it had required as much of me as the hardest day of training. What I didn’t put in the letter was that the act of writing it forced me to reflect on the possibility that I could die without ever having known what it felt like to be in love.

 

That was the mandated reality of many servicemembers before me.

 

For seventeen years, DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) forced LGBTQ soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen into the closet. The punishment for living openly was dismissal from the armed forces.

 

For individual servicemembers, that meant hiding who they were from the people they trusted with their lives. In some cases it meant giving a life that was less than whole.

 

For partners, it meant that when a promotion came up, they wouldn’t be there to celebrate a new rank being pinned on. And should the worst happen, they wouldn’t even be contacted.

 

We accepted this for so long that it just felt normal. Some even felt it was necessary to keep our country safe. It ultimately took the recorded responses of the more than 400,000 men and women in uniform who were interviewed for the historic report to make clear that LGBTQ service members are not burdensome to the military; they’re invaluable. And on September 20, 2011, President Obama signed the repeal.

 

Servicemembers and their families could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Many even sent letters of thanks like this one from Master Sergeant Bertie Wiggins. She wrote:

 

I’m so proud of my wife and children and for the sacrifices they made in my 11 years of service to our great country. Now, they too, can be recognized for the selfless service they have given in support of me and my calling.

 

Or this one by Darin from Washington:

 

My husband will deploy next June, but this time his pack will be a little lighter without the worry of whether or not his family will be taken care of.

 

Or this one from Master at Arms Michael Aycox:

 

Few people understand what it is like to be an outcast in…their own mind, and even fewer understand what it is like to be told “No you cannot love.” You said to the world “Yes you can, and you are not alone.”

 

We’ve come so far.

 

But the struggle is not over.

 

It’s not over when so many Americans can be denied work or fired for being who we are. It’s not over when transgender troops, ready to put their lives on the line for this country, have their careers threatened with ruin one tweet at a time by a commander-in-chief who, himself, pretended to be disabled when it was his turn to serve.

 

The politics of the past have returned, but we will not wait another seventeen years to do something about it. That’s why I’m proud to count former Pentagon senior spokesman Doug Wilson, who played a key role in the DADT repeal, and Eric Fanning, the first openly-gay Secretary of the Army, among the many LGBTQ national security professionals on my foreign policy and national security team.

 

Gently setting the letter to my family in a desk drawer made it clear to me: You only get to live one life. And if you return home safe from a dangerous place, you owe it to yourself to build a life that is worthy of your own good fortune. So I came out. I met and married Chasten. I became whole.

 

Our servicemembers deserve the chance to live a life that’s whole without losing their jobs or erasing the ones they love. As president, I will ensure we respect the humanity of those who risk everything for us. We owe it to them.

 

Pete

 

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Florida

Black & LGBTQ+ inclusive wall mural cited for multiple code violations

The idea was to make a mural that addressed pending legislation in Tallahassee that would affect the rights of minorities & the LGBTQ+ people

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Photograph courtesy of United Teachers of Dade

MIAMI SPRINGS, Fl. – A colourful wall mural in Dade County has attracted the ire of municipal authorities who say the mural, which includes a child of color reading a book, a verse from a Maya Angelo poem, and an LGBTQ Pride rainbow symbol, violates building codes.

The United Teachers of Dade union has been cited by Miami Springs for code violations after it unveiled the mural on its office building the Miami Herald reported this past week.

“If you do not see the word mural on an ordinance this does not mean it’s allowed, means you should make an inquiry with the Building & Zoning department first and present your mural,” Miami Springs Councilwoman Jacky Bravo said in an email to the Herald. “We are not talking about a small stamp on the wall. Seems like they took a blind eye on this one, and unfortunately has caused an issue to be dealt with.”

The Herald reported that was it unveiled last March, and was titled ‘Rise’ to send a message to lawmakers in Florida’s capitol in Tallahassee as a series of laws were being introduced that negatively impacted the minority and LGBTQ+ communities in the state.

Luis Valle, a Miami-based artist who was commissioned by the United Teachers of Dade union to paint the mural told the paper, “The idea was to make a mural that addressed pending legislation in Tallahassee, at the time, that would affect public schools, as well as the rights of minorities and those in the LGBTQ+ community. It is about inclusivity for all people and all cultures.”

Although the UTD Union had submitted and paid for a permit, the Miami Springs City Code Compliance Department, which requires permits be obtained before work commences, had already issued a “notice of violation” on March 25 to the union site’s property owner, UTD Building Corp., for violations that included:

–improper size of wall sign

–improper placement and/or width of wall sign

–improper construction of sign

–failure to comply with applicable color palette

“Failure to correct the violations by the time due shall cause this case to be set for hearing before the code compliance board and may result in fines, costs and/or a lien levied against you and the property,” the notice said. “Fines imposed shall not exceed $250 per day for a first-time violation.”

The city gave UTD until April 24 to correct the violations, according to the notice. Potential fines, as of Oct. 13, could run as high as $43,000 the Herald noted.

Currently discussions are ongoing. “UTD reviewed all the codes before contracting our mural artist in order to perform our due diligence,” United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats said in an emailed statement to the Herald on Oct. 11. “Additionally, we spoke to a former council member to double check our findings and that individual also concluded that the Miami Springs City Codes did not address this topic.”

“The art piece is not a sign for the building or our organization; it has no logo or company name on it because it is an artistic expression in the form of a mural with no other intent,” Hernandez-Mats’ added.

Attempts by the Miami Herald to reach Miami Springs Mayor Maria Mitchell, and City Council members had been unsuccessful by this past Thursday afternoon, however the next Miami Springs City Council meeting is at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 25.

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Vermont

Vermont high school homecoming halftime show turns into a ‘drag show’

“The crowd was decked out in LGBTQ+ affirming clothing- the stands were completely packed. It was just so heartwarming to see”

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Burlington High School, Burlington Vermont homecoming game October 2021 (Screenshot via YouTube)

BURLINGTON, Vt. – A quintessential annual Fall time-honored tradition held across America’s on high school football fields are homecoming games. This year a mix of students and faculty members Burlington High School, along with some participants from South Burlington High School, added a touch of ‘drag’ to the halftime show.

“Things went amazing,” Ezra Totten, student leader of the Gender Sexuality Alliance at Burlington High School, told the Associated Press, speaking about Friday night’s event. “The stands were completely packed. It was just so heartwarming to see.”

The school’s principal, its Athletic Director, and other staff were fully supportive with Andrew LeValley, an English teacher and GSA adviser, the faculty member who created the idea along with a boost from Burlington High Athletic Director Quaron Pinckney suggested that the show be held at the homecoming game’s halftime.

Pinckney, who is Black, told the AP that the school gave him the space to “uplift my voice” and that he was able to reciprocate and “uplift the voices of another marginalized group and share a space in the athletics realm that doesn’t normally get shared.”

The crowd was decked out in LGBTQ+ affirming clothing, costumes and waving Pride flags raucously cheering as the ‘drag ball’s’ performers paraded and danced to show support for LGBTQ+ students and the larger LGBTQ+ community. They commenced the halftime show with a runway-style event while they lip-synced to singer Todrick Hall’s “Rainbow Reign.”

Burlington High School’s halftime drag show

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Utah

LGBTQ+ Non-profit will build 8 homes for LGBTQ youth in Western states

Encircle is a non-profit organization with the mission to bring the family and community together to enable LGBTQ+ youth to thrive

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LGBTQ Youth, Utah Governor Spencer Cox, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Dwayne Wade & other donors (Photo: Tim Cook Twitter)

SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah-based non-profit announced Wednesday that the organization has raised more than $8 million dollars to build eight new homes in four Western states to provide services for LGBTQ youth.

Encircle, which provides mental health services for LGBTQ youth, will build the new homes with locations in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Utah. The new homes are dedicated for providing safe spaces, resources and preventing teen suicide. The organization currently has locations in Salt Lake City, Provo and St. George, Utah, and recently construction has begun on locations in Heber, Logan and Ogden, as well as in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The fundraising efforts had kicked off this past February with donations from NBA Basketball’s Utah Jazz team owners Ryan and Ashley Smith and Apple CEO Tim Cook, the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 firm. The lead singer of Imagine Dragons Dan Reynolds and his wife, recording artist Aja Volkman, and retired NBA superstar and Jazz part-owner Dwayne Wade, whose 14-year-old daughter Zaya is Trans, all partnered together to give a total of $4 million.

In a press conference Wednesday, “Encircle’s mission is very personal to me because I see myself in so many of these young people,” Apple CEO Cook told reporters. “It’s not easy when you’re made to feel different or less than because of who you are or who you love. It’s a feeling that so many LGBTQ people know far too well.”

Encircle executives and the group of celebrities were joined by Utah Republican Governor Spencer Cox who praised Encircle’s efforts.

“What Encircle has done is provided that piece of acceptance, even if — especially if — there is no acceptance anywhere else,” the governor said. “There is a place where they can go where they can feel loved.”

Wade, reflecting on being the parent of a Trans child, “I stand here as a proud parent of a beautiful daughter that’s a part of the LGBT-plus community,” he said. “I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know everything, but I’m willing to listen.”

Encircle is a non-profit organization with the mission to bring the family and community together to enable LGBTQ+ youth to thrive.

On its website the non-profit lists its current support services including its new café which is open “Monday through Friday between 3-8 PM folks ages 12-25 are welcome to just drop-in, hang out and enjoy our safe space. Friendship Circles, its weekly groups [which] allow you to tell your story and connect with peers in a safer space facilitated by our community, and LGBTQ affirming therapy.”

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