Openly gay literary critic Dale Peck wrote the piece, which can still be found at this Archive.Today link, to explain why Buttigieg shouldn’t be president. A key reason: Buttigieg waited too long to come out as gay by waiting until his early 30s.
That prolonged incubation makes Buttigieg susceptible to a distracting mid-life crisis because he “didn’t get to have all the fun his straight peers did when they were teenagers,” Peck writes. Sowing those adolescent wild oats includes the sex and drugs “that are rites of passage for a lot of gay men.”
Peck describes Buttigieg as “the gay equivalent of Uncle Tom,” calling him “Mary Pete” throughout the column. The column, titled “My Mayor Pete Problem,” also speculates on Buttigieg’s sex life in the crudest possible terms.
Negative reactions were swift on Twitter.
Parker Molloy, editor-at-large for progressive media watchdog Media Matters for America, posted: “Holy crap, that TNR piece about Buttigieg is... rambling, gross, and bizarre. I don’t understand the purpose of it?”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, tweeted: “The homophobic TNR article on Buttigieg last week was way off base.” She recommended instead a New York Times story that delved into his coming-out experience.
TNR removed the op-ed from its website and replaced it with an editor’s note that said: “Dale Peck’s post ‘My Mayor Pete Problem’ has been removed from the site, in response to criticism of the piece’s inappropriate and invasive content. We regret its publication.”
Chris Lehmann, TNR’s editor, added a separate statement: "The New Republic recognizes that this post crossed a line, and while it was largely intended as satire, it was inappropriate and invasive."
Buttigieg shrugged off the op-ed when asked about it by Alexandra Jaffe, a reporter for the Associated Press.
“The best way I’ve found to deal with that is to just be myself and let other people worry about whether it’s enough,” he said.
Jezebel’s Rich Juzwiak also was more forgiving. He argued that Peck’s column “didn’t denigrate Buttigieg for being gay (that would be homophobic), but for what he does with his gay.” Juzwiak also chided critics who define homophobia as “being mean to a gay person” and straight people who infantilize the gay community in order to relate to them.
While Peck’s rambling op-ed is loosely reasoned and vulgar, TNR should have stood by its original decision to print the column, which serves as a springboard for discussions about homophobia, and what can be considered bigotry toward the LGTB community.