“Chasten...Just Come Home”
Chasten Buttigieg has something to tell us.
In his recent book, I Have Something to Tell You, he speaks about his childhood, his adolescence, his college years, and beyond. The Lewes/Rehoboth area was treated recently to an appearance by Chasten at the Lewes Public Library, in collaboration with CAMP Rehoboth and Browseabout Books. The book is not only a compilation of stories of his growing-up years, it is a revelation of how this gay young man in upstate Michigan came to terms with his sexual identity. Along the way, his family and friends would sooner or later support him in various ways—some sooner, some much later.
“If I wasn’t in class or at work, I’d often drive aimlessly around town just to feel like I was headed somewhere. This inner battle of guilt, shame and sleepless nights went on for a couple of months, until one day my mom called and asked me to come home. ‘Just come home and we’ll figure it out.’ I drove straight to my parents’ house. Mom met me at the top of the stairs and hugged me as close as she could.” Chasten’s parents still did not understand their son being gay, but they knew they loved him unconditionally.
One of the more touching stories involves Chasten coming out to his maternal grandmother. She was the only living grandparent he had at the time. The moment had arrived for him to pass the news up one generation. A deeply religious Catholic woman, she held her rosary beads not only close to her chest, but close to her heart. The two went for a walk as Chasten drew up the courage to share what could be devastating news to this elderly woman.
Chasten tells it best: “We sat in silence...the tears began to well as I thought about breaking her heart. I looked over at her confused expression—she could tell I was hurting. ‘Grandma, I...’ But I choked. She immediately reached her hand over and rested it on my forearm. ‘I know, Chassers, and I love you just the same.’ I laughed and fell apart in her arms. How long had she known and waited for me to tell her? Grandma was my staunchest ally.”
During the Q & A session at the Lewes Library, skillfully led by Fay Jacobs, Chasten shared insights into the life he and Pete lead being in politics, and as fathers to twins. Speaking to a packed room, Chasten shared some profound statements and insights.
One person in attendance said, “Despite the progress that has been made over the years toward acceptance for those in the LGBTQ community, Chasten’s journey continues to resonate for young people coming of age and coming out. He is performing an incredible service by courageously sharing his journey. His personal story offers hope and encouragement to others who feel alone, misunderstood and rejected.”
Another attendee stated that she appreciated Chasten’s praise of educators. (Teachers, he said, have a very difficult job, and even more so when politics are involved.) The other note this friend made is that she could identify with Chasten as he spoke of his childhood struggle with his sexual identity, thinking that he was the only one who felt that way. “Boy, could I relate to THAT feeling,” she shared.
Finally, one man’s takeaway from the evening is summarized thus: “I admired Chasten’s understanding of how important it was that he took his book tour to places in the country that need his inspirational message of hope and love the most. He indicated that engaging with [people in] these parts of the US is how we can win folks over and heal divisions.”
Chasten Buttigieg and his husband Pete have been married for five years and are proud parents of twins. There are many gems of wisdom and insight within the pages of Chasten’s book, both self-revealing and aspirational in outlook. A few of these bits include: “Mom loves to love, a trait that has trickled down to me.”
Giving of one’s self to another person is a sacrifice. He has given his life and purpose to Pete and any political advancement that may come.
Chasten easily admits his doubts and misgivings about who he was. “I was constantly trying to fit in with conflicting groups...I knew there had to be something else for me...I was still jealous that [other] kids HAD a group. I was still trying to find mine.”
It is vital that all young persons come to terms with their true selves. Chasten has made it his personal mission to help them to know that they are not alone. A host of people identify somewhere in the LGBTQ spectrum. It is his hope that many other young people will hear the words, “Just come home.” ▼
David Garrett, a CAMP Rehoboth Board member, is a straight advocate for equality and inclusion. He is also the proud father of an adult trans daughter. Email David Garrett at email@example.com.