Metro Weekly

Pete Buttigieg responds to Tennessee Republican who called him a “queer”

Tennessee Equality Project demands Warren Hurst be censured for anti-gay rant

Pete Buttigieg – Photo: Gage Skidmore.

Pete Buttigieg has responded to a Republican politician in Tennessee who branded him “a queer running for president.”

Sevier County Commissioner Warren Hurst was filmed earlier this month ranting about the South Bend, Ind., mayor’s campaign for the presidency, lamenting that an openly gay man was running for the Democratic nomination.

“It’s time we wake up people, it’s time, it’s past time,” Hurst said at a county commission meeting.

“We got a queer running for president, if that ain’t about as ugly as you can get,” he added to laughter and applause.

Read more: Tennessee Republican calls Pete Buttigieg a “queer” during anti-gay rant

During a campaign stop last week, Buttigieg was asked about the comments by WHDH reporter Sharman Sacchetti, USA Today reports.

“Well, he was right about one thing,” said Buttigieg. “He’s right that there is a gay man running for president. He doesn’t seem to be right about much else.”

Sacchetti asked Buttigieg if he had “run into this kind of discrimination and prejudice on the campaign trail?”

“Sure,” Buttigieg responded, “but it doesn’t speak for most people. And I think the most important thing is to approach with compassion.”

Hurst’s comments were widely condemned — both during and after the meeting.

A local Democratic official stood up during Hurst’s rant, saying, “This is not profession, this is bullshit,” and left the meeting.

Perrin Anderson, the assistant to Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters, denounced Hurst’s comments, saying the county does not support any type of discrimination.

LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD called Hurst’s comments “completely unacceptable and ridiculous, especially coming from a county official.”

And now, the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) has launched a petition urging Mayor Waters and the commission members to censure Hurst for his comments, as well as calling for an update to the County’s policies to be more inclusive for LGBTQ Tennesseans.

“The racist and homophobic comments of Sevier County Commissioner Warren Hurst have shocked people across the country,” a statement attached to TEP’s petition reads. “Please, add your name to protest his divisive words and call for policy change in Sevier County, Tennessee.”

TEP is also organizing a protest, dubbed “Wear Red Against Racism and Homophobia,” scheduled for the next Sevier County Commission meeting, on Nov. 18.

The organization is urging its supporters and members of the public to “show up in red to show your opposition to this kind of discourse in local government.”

For Buttigieg, Hurst’s comments are sadly only the latest example of homophobia to be directed at him on the campaign trail.

Earlier this month, a right-wing activist and keynote speaker at a Republican Party event in Ohio repeatedly called Buttigieg “Mayor Buttplug” and said, “we need to make homosexuality unthinkable again.”

Dave Daubenmire, known for his ‘Coach Dave’ online persona, used his daily webcast “Pass The Salt Live” to similarly criticize a gay man running for the presidency.

“We live in a society where we are giving serious consideration to a man who performs oral sex on another man,” he said. “We have to make this stuff unthinkable again. We have to.”

He added: “We need to make homosexuality unthinkable again. It needs to go back in the closet.”

Not that the anti-gay attacks are harming Buttigieg’s efforts in Iowa, where the 37-year-old recently surged to second place in the latest statewide poll.

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at

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