You may or may not know this but Luca Guadagnino, the director of 2017's Call Me by Your Name, made a decision to keep explicitly gay sex out of the movie so that the movie would be more palatable for straight audience, which is wild because I can’t think of anything more enjoyable to watch than gay sex. He even altered a scene from the book where Oliver eats a peach Elio had recently used to masturbate because it made him feel weird.
Guadagnino himself identifies as gay, so it would be safe to ostensibly believe he is comfortable with gay sex in general, but in this instance he chose to pretend it wasn’t part of the story to make straight people more comfortable during his movie, as opposed to faithfully adapting what had been written. It’s not entirely his fault, as the pressure to conform to heterosexual norms has long been a requirement expected of queer people in exchange for the tolerance, if not the acceptance, of us as community.
Recently Chasten Buttigieg, who is currently on the campaign trail attempting to convince the people of America to vote for this husband Pete to be the Democratic nominee for president, so that he might have the opportunity become the first First Husband in American history, took a page out of Guadagnino’s book and cancelled a fundraiser that was meant to take place at the Dark Lady, an LGBTQ nightclub in Providence, Rhode Island.
Buck Asprinio, general manager of the Dark Lady, said that after members of Buttigieg’s campaign arrived they asked that the “dancer pole” be removed from the middle of the club prior to the fundraiser. Rightly, Asprinio the Dark Lady’s staff refused.
“It’s been here since we opened and it’s not going anywhere,” Asprinio said. “The dancer pole is part of who we are ─ if you want to dance on a pole, we’re the place to be.”
Personally, I will be the first person to buy a t-shirt should they start to sell merch with that quote on it, because there is absolutely no reason a bar should have to alter its space in order to accommodate the aesthetics of a political campaign.
Buttigieg’s spokesperson didn’t deny the Dark Lady’s depiction of what went down, nor did they offer any clarifying comments about their decision to relocate the event, which only leaves us to draw the reasonable conclusion that Buttigieg hopes to create as much distance between his campaign and whatever they believe to be implied by the presence of a “dancer pole” in a gay bar. Which, honestly, I’d love to hear from them what they think that is.
It’s disappointing on a variety of levels. One being that LGBTQ nightlife is already struggling, and I’m sure even bars in Providence would benefit from the added business Chasten’s presence was likely to bring. The second, larger disappointment, is that this change of venue seems to be part of a the Buttigieg campaign’s habitual distancing from anything deemed to be more explicitly queer. Pete Buttigieg previously said he couldn’t read LGBTQ media anymore, even after covering Out Magazine in 2019.
Listen, I don’t need Pete Buttigieg to walk out on the debate stage in a rainbow suit, I just need him to not participate in the narrative that the queer experience must be sanitized in order for it to be acceptable. The Buttigieg campaign has done plenty of fundraisers in plenty of places that are entirely unremarkable, and it’s a shame to think that they were ashamed to have one take place at a gay bar where it was evident that, heaven forbid, someone might dance on a pole.
As for the Dark Lady, they’re doing just fine. “We’re open, we’re here, we’re queer, get over it,” read a post they made on their Facebook page.
The Buttigieg campaign would do well to adopt that message.