Equality Florida’s highest honor of the year went to the man behind the man.
Florida’s largest civil rights organization bestowed its “Voice for Equality” award to Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Pete Buttigieg, the out gay man who shattered political glass ceilings during the 2020 presidential campaign.
“It was a huge political breakthrough for an out gay man to run for president as a major party candidate,” said EqFL Chief Executive Officer Nadine Smith, in a press release.
Buttigieg was a little known mayor of a midwestern college town when he entered the race for the Democratic party nomination, but soon emerged as a top tier candidate. He confidently pushed back against the Trump administration, often referencing his own faith as proof being gay and Christian were not mutually exclusive.
Chasten and Pete married in 2018.
“And it was an equally tremendous cultural breakthrough for Chasten to stand beside his husband every step of the way, supportive, authentic, and a force for change in his own right,” said Smith.
Chasten, a 31-year-old school teacher from Michigan, communicated the message of LGBT equality through his social media platforms throughout the campaign. When Pete won the Iowa Caucus — a first for a gay politician — their affection for each other raised America’s consciousness, said Smith.
“For countless Americans, Chasten and Pete brought a new level of visibility and honesty to our community that was real, and raw, and relatable,” Smith said. “We are thrilled to shine a spotlight on Chasten, and hope it will inspire others to live their lives out and proud — and for parents to always love all their kids exactly the way they are.”
The award was presented virtually last Saturday.
“I’m still a little overwhelmed to be receiving such an honor, for being myself and living my truth,” said Chasten, who released his memoir, “I Have Something To Tell You,” in September. “Still, I am proud of what we’ve done — how far we’ve come, if it helps even one young LGBTQ person to live without fear of rejection and to realize their dreams. At the same time, I know how much Equality Florida, which is very much the vanguard of LGBTQ equality work, has contributed to that process.”
Past winners of the EqFL Voice for Equality award include U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch, Olympic gold medalist diver Greg Louganis, Florida Agriculture & Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried, Supreme Court marriage equality plaintiff Jim Obergefell, transgender activist Jazz Jennings and tennis legend Martina Navratilova. This year’s Legacy for Equality Award was awarded posthumously to Wilton Manors Mayor Justin Flippen.