Chasten Buttigieg first visited Provincetown in July 2019 with his husband, Pete Buttigieg, then the mayor of South Bend, Ind. Pete was one of 23 candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president, and the couple received a rousing welcome in town. Their one-day trip was packed with events including a rally at Provincetown Town Hall and a private party in the West End that raised $325,000 for the campaign.
Now, Pete is the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and Chasten is returning to Provincetown. On Monday, July 24, during Family Week, he will appear at the Crown & Anchor in a “fireside chat” to discuss his book I Have Something to Tell You (For Young Adults). The event is sold out, but there is a cancellation list.
The memoir was first published in 2020 as I Have Something to Tell You. It was geared to an adult audience. With striking honesty, Buttigieg recounted stories from his early life of homelessness, sexual assault, and financial hardship. He dedicated an entire section to his experience on the campaign trail with (and without) his husband. He has now revamped the work for a younger audience, reimagining it as the book he wishes he had as a young closeted teenager in a conservative small town.
“The fact is, my story isn’t rare,” Buttigieg writes. “It’s actually pretty common.” He hopes his stories can “hold up a mirror to your own experiences and help you feel less alone.”
Chasten grew up in Traverse City, Mich., and his current book tour has made stops in red states including Florida, Texas, and Tennessee. When he spoke to the Independent on July 12, Buttigieg was preparing to go to Iowa and Nebraska before heading east to Provincetown. The stops on the tour “highlight the importance of showing up,” he says.
“It’s always nice to be in a very liberal place or be around like-minded people,” says Buttigieg, “but there are also queer people and parents of queer youth in red America, too, who don’t want to feel abandoned, who don’t want to feel mocked.”
Beyond just talking about the book, Buttigieg has been donating copies to LGBTQ nonprofits like PFLAG and GLSEN as well as to local organizations and library systems across the country. Proceeds from the Provincetown event are going to the nonprofit Family Equality, whose CEO, Stacey Stevenson, will share the stage with Buttigieg on Monday.
Buttigieg calls this an example of “active allyship” in response the rise of anti-LGBTQ laws in Republican-controlled states. “If you consider yourself an ally,” Buttigieg says, “you have to ask yourself, did I give myself that title? Or have I earned it?”
With the rising tide of book bans, drag bans, and restrictions on transgender rights, Buttigieg adds, “You might have to get off the couch.”
Buttigieg remembers spending “almost half of my life believing that something about me was wrong or twisted.” He admits that the situation has improved for queer youth in some ways. “But then you sit in a room,” he says, “and you’re having this conversation with young people who are feeling the exact same way that you felt when you were younger: ‘Is it really safe to be myself in this country? Will I lose everything — my family, my friends?’
“That’s where I enjoy using my platform to elevate those stories and continue fighting back against some of this draconian legislation,” Buttigieg continues. “It’s a way that I can continue showing up and being the person that I wish I would have had when I was younger.”
The book tour, Buttigieg says, has highlighted the effect of this work through some “really raw conversations.” He recalls a mother in Tennessee struggling to voice her question about his experience of homosexuality and religion (in the book, Buttigieg writes of blending in as “the country boy, the devout Christian, or, eventually, the straight kid”). Like Buttigieg’s description of his mother, this woman “had only heard one thing for the majority of her life, and she has a queer kid. She’s trying to reconcile her faith with that love for her child. Those types of conversations are happening, whether it’s blue America or red America.”
After these emotionally charged moments, Buttigieg says he is looking forward to an “end-of-book-tour breather” in Provincetown. Holding this event during Family Week carries an additional significance: he and his husband adopted newborn twins, Gus and Penelope, in August 2021. Pete is staying home with the kids while Chasten takes a solo “dad’s vacation.”
“I never thought I’d have a family,” Buttigieg says. “I never thought I’d get to be a dad. And so, I want to celebrate that.”