Chasten Buttigieg, the outspoken husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, shared on Twitter the absolute terror he felt when publicly confronted about his sexuality by a supervisor at work.
His story inspired many of his followers to share their own frightening stories of having to choose between keeping their job or staying in the closet.
Buttigieg noted that in many states, at the time, it would have been legal for his employer to fire him for being LGBTQ+, and he used the experience to call for passage of the Equality Act.
Buttigieg, who worked as a theatre teacher in public schools prior to his husband’s political career, recalled in a tweet: “I’ll never forget when an assistant manager found out I was gay in the break room, marched out onto the floor, came right up to my face and said ‘wait, is it true you’re a f**?’”
“Now imagine if my manager didn’t like that about me either. At the time, it would have been legal in far too many places in America for them to simply show me the door. It is time to codify true equality for LGBTQ people and pass the #EqualityAct,” Buttigieg wrote.
At the time, it would have been legal in far too many places in America for them to simply show me the door. It is time to codify true equality for LGBTQ people and pass the #EqualityAct
— Chasten Glezman Buttigieg (@Chasten) February 24, 2021
Buttigieg’s personal story inspired others to tell their similar experiences. One person revealed his shift manager suggested he should kill himself after learning he was gay.
“A shift manager found out I was gay not long after I was forced out of the closet and went ballistic on me, telling me I should kill myself. I ended up in a meeting with the owner of the store, who agreed with the manager and said I lucky to still have a job,” Kellie Greenberg tweeted.
Twitter user @SignoreBocca shared an uplifting story of how his father had responded to his assistant who came out to him at work.
“I remember my father coming home and telling us about a ‘funny thing’ that happened at work,” @SignoreBocca wrote. “This was in the early ’80s. My dad’s assistant came out as gay. The assistant, feeling resigned to his fate, asked my dad if he was fired. My dad asked if this would affect his typing. The man laughed and said no, so my dad said, ‘So let’s get back to work.’ My dad was perplexed telling the story. ‘The guy just ASSUMED I would fire him.’ I think a lot of people (even those considered tolerant at the time) didn’t understand what gay people had to go through.”