Monday, September 7, 2020

Book Review: "I Have Something to Tell You" by Chasten Buttigieg

Chasten Buttigieg's I Have Something to Tell You is a warm, engaging, and emotional memoir I really connected with.

Even before the 2020 campaign season officially kicked off, I was a huge fan of Pete Buttigieg, the then-mayor of South Bend, Indiana. I appreciated his immense intelligence and thoughtfulness, and really believed in his desire to bring this country together. I knew his candidacy was a long shot, but I still cried when it ended just before I’d have had the chance to vote for him in the primary.

Of course, never would I have imagined when I was growing up (or even well into my adulthood, TBH) that an openly gay man would be a credible candidate for president and that he would campaign with his husband at his side. I so enjoyed watching Chasten become such a visible part of the campaign—you could feel his warmth and empathy, as well as his love for his husband—and following him on social media, I got glimpses of his humor, his heart, and his occasional wonder at all that was happening.

All of those qualities make Chasten’s memoir so enjoyable. He’s tremendously self-deprecating and doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he’s more than happy to admit the missteps he’s taken in his life. But while we grew up in different areas of the country and he’s nearly 20(!) years younger than me, I really related to his story in so many ways.

In addition to talking about his relationship with Pete and what he learned from campaigning, Chasten shares what it was like to grow up feeling you have to hide your real self, the fear of coming out to those you love and worrying they’ll disown you, the struggles of finding someone to love you for who you are, not take advantage of you. He recognizes how fortunate he is, because many LGBTQIA+ people are shunned by family and friends, and are victims of violence and discrimination. He discusses his struggles with self-esteem, debt, and uncertainty about his future.

I so enjoyed learning more about Chasten and his experiences and thoughts. While only the future will know whether someday he might become the First Gentleman, I believe we’ll be lucky to have his contributions whatever form they take.

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