"Your personal journey from the closet to self-discovery is uniquely yours."
Chasten Glezman Buttigieg is not only an educator and an author but also a prominent advocate for LGBTQ rights. He is the spouse of Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who assumed the role of U.S. Secretary of Transportation in February 2021.
Born in Traverse City, Michigan, Chasten grew up in a family that owned a landscaping business. During his teenage years, he attended a public high school while also working on his grandfather's cherry farm. Reflecting on this time, he recalls, "Growing up in conservative rural Michigan, I thought I was the only gay person in the world." He struggled with feelings of being somehow "twisted and wrong." Despite keeping his sexual orientation hidden, he faced bullying and endured hurtful homophobic slurs.
For his senior year of high school, Buttigieg participated in an exchange program in Germany. Upon his return, he decided to come out to his family. Their initial rejection led him to leave home, and he went through a challenging period during which he technically experienced homelessness. It was around this same time that he was assaulted by an acquaintance's friend.
Ultimately, Buttigieg and his family reconciled. He went on to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in theater and global studies at the University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire, followed by a Master of Education from DePaul University.
Buttigieg's professional journey included work as a teaching artist at First Stage Children’s Theater in Milwaukee. Throughout the 2010s, he taught in public schools in Chicago and Indiana. He met his husband through a dating app in 2015. The couple celebrated their marriage in 2018, during Pete’s tenure as South Bend’s mayor, making Chasten the first openly gay “first gentleman” of a city mayor in the United States. The following year, Chasten took on the role of director of curriculum for civic education at the South Bend Civic Theater.
To support Pete’s 2020 presidential campaign, Chasten took a leave of absence from his teaching position. Together, they achieved a historic milestone, as Pete became the first openly gay married presidential candidate in U.S. history. Chasten played a pivotal role as his husband’s campaign spokesperson, advisor, and social media manager. In the autumn of 2020, Chasten held a fellowship at the Harvard Institute of Politics for a semester and released his first memoir, titled “I Have Something to Tell You.”
In 2021, the Buttigieges were honored with the International Role Model Award from Equality Forum. During this period, they also welcomed twins, Joseph and Penelope, into their family. They currently reside in Washington, D.C. Chasten frequently appears on television and engages in public speaking to share his life experiences and advocate for LGBTQ equality.