South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg suggested on Friday that comedian Kevin Hart may not have been honest when he dismissed rapper Lil Nas X's announcement that he was gay.
"I think when somebody finds it necessary to wave their arms up and down and jump up and down telling you how much this isn't a thing for them, it makes you wonder whether they're being honest with themselves," Buttigieg said while on Power 105.1's radio show "The Breakfast Club."
Buttigieg's remarks were in reference to a conversation between Hart and the "Old Town Road" rapper earlier in the week during an appearance on HBO's "The Shop: Uninterrupted." While discussing Lil Nas' decision to reveal his sexuality during the height of his success, Hart brushed off the importance of the announcement.
"He said he was gay," Hart replied at the time. "So what?"
"It's not that it's being forced," Lil Nas answered. "It's just, like ... growing up, [I grew] up to hate [homosexuality and gay people]."
The comedian received a slew of criticism for his seemingly dismissive response, with many even suggesting that Hart is himself homophobic.
"I think it was the fact that he found it necessary to interrupt Lil Nas X and jump in and let everyone know that he doesn't care," Buttigieg said. "Like, it's almost like — I don't want to say that I know how it sounds to other people, but I will say that I know a lot of gay people that hear that and hear something that might not be that different from what some folks hear when they hear somebody say 'I don’t see color.'"
"Like, no, this is a thing," he continued. "Like, as much as we might want to believe that our marriages are going to be treated the exact same, as we just move through society as everybody else, and we’re just living our lives — no, this is actually a thing, kids are putting bullets through their heads over this, right?"
The 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful further praised Lil Nas' bravery and highlighted that because he decided to come out while he was at the apex of his career, he had even more to lose.
Buttigieg, who revealed his own homosexuality to his constituents while running for his mayoral re-election, later contended that it makes no difference to him as a public servant whether people support his sexual identity or whether they are indifferent. However, what people think means different things to different people.
"I'm not out to be the president of gay America, I'm out to be the president of the United States of America," Buttigieg said. "But, it’s part of who I am. It's part of my experience. It shapes me, I think it informs the way I come at the world."
"In the same way that we can't pretend that identities don't exist, we can’t pretend that this isn't a thing," he continued. "It's just to make sure we have a way of going through life to where it’s not the only thing."