On their first date, Chasten Glezman asked Pete Buttigieg what the future looked like. Mayor Pete, as he was best known then, responded honestly: “In 2020 there’s a possibility I might be considered for governor,” he recalled in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning last month. Less than two years later, Chasten Buttigieg has hit the campaign trail with his husband in a bid to become the country’s first first man.
“So I’ve had a busy couple months,” the 29-year-old quipped at the crowd during a Human Rights Campaign speech in April. “Never underestimate what can happen when you agree to go on a date with a cute guy from South Bend, Indiana.”
Here’s what you should know about the would-be “first gent.”
He Left Home After Coming Out—and Briefly Slept in His Car
Chasten is the youngest son of three boys growing up in a working-class Midwestern family in Traverse City, Michigan. He came out the summer after his high school graduation, an announcement his family did not take to kindly. He left home soon after.
“When I was 18-years-old I worked up the courage to tell my parents that I was gay. And while we have a great relationship now, back then things weren’t easy,” Chasten shared during his HRC speech.
Chasten couch surfed or slept in his car in the parking lot of his community college until his mother relented a couple of months later and asked him to move back in. His older brothers have yet to accept him.
“We never got over it,” Chasten told The Washington Post. His brother Rhyan Glezman, now the pastor of a Christian church, said he still loves his youngest brother, but that he can’t “support the gay lifestyle.”
In describing his childhood, Chasten recalled bullying at school and isolation amongst his siblings. While his brothers would be out chopping wood with their dad, Chasten told The Washington Post he “would be inside reading Harry Potter or singing Celine Dion at the top of my lungs while my mom and I were dusting the cabinets.”
He’s a First-Generation College Student
After his time at a local community college, Chasten transferred to the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. He ultimately graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 2011 with bachelor’s degrees in theater and global studies. Afterwards, he landed a job as a teacher at the acclaimed children’s theater academy First Stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“Mr. Glezman worked for three years bringing drama to thousands of students throughout the greater Milwaukee region and inspiring students with autism and learning differences to pursue drama,” his most recent teaching bio reads.
He Worked as a Starbucks Barista
However, like many jobs available to the millennial generation, the theatre academy did not include benefits. To provide himself with health care, Chasten got a second job—for an additional 20 to 30 hours a week—working at a Starbucks, he told The Washington Post.
He Has a Master’s Degree in education
In June 2017, Chasten graduated with a Masters of Education in curriculum studies from DePaul University, where he wrote his thesis on the importance of creative curriculum and arts integration. Exactly one year later, he married Buttigieg. About a year after that—just two months shy of the couple’s one year-anniversary—the mayor officially announced he was running for president.
As a Montessori drama teacher, Chasten “reintroduced theater classes at the Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Junior High levels” according to his teaching bio from Montessori Academy at Edison Lakes in South Bend, Indiana.
When asked why he went into teaching on Sunday Morning, Chasten quickly responded: “Because I think it’s the best job. ... I just enjoy being in the classroom with them, and asking them to think about the world a little differently, challenging them, and getting them to believe in themselves.”
Chasten has since left his teaching job to join Buttigieg on the campaign trail.
He’d Like to Improve Public Education and Health Care
Chasten told NowThis News in April that he was inspired to pursue education as a career by his own drama teacher, Mrs. Bach. “Kids like myself growing up… saw something in her. They knew her auditorium and her classroom was a safe space,” Chasten said. “I wanted to be the teacher in the room that made kids feel like their dreams mattered. And I really wanted to be the person to just help them see that there is a place for them in this world.”
When asked last month on Sunday Morning how the couple has maintained their composure throughout the whirlwind year, Chasten pointed to the many health-related struggles they have weathered as defining reasons for embarking on Buttigieg’s campaign.
“A lot of the things you listed in the last year are the things that are grounding us, reminding us why politics matters,” Chasten said. “Watching and losing Peter’s father, and losing my grandmother, and being there for my mother when she was going through chemotherapy treatment, remind us why health care is important, remind us why family is so important. ... Politics is about making people’s lives better, not worse. We’re doing this for everybody who has a story like that.”
Buttigieg’s father, Joseph Buttigieg, an English professor at the University of Notre Dame, passed away in January of this year due to an undisclosed illness.
Chasten has said that as first man he’d hope to focus on improving public schools, access to arts education, and mental health care.
He’s Embraced Social Media on the Campaign Trail
Granted a successful 2020 bid for his husband, he would not only become the first man in the White House, he would also become the first millennial. Chasten has already been declared by Politico as “winning the 2020 spouse primary,” a projection that appears to be largely due to his lighthearted—and lightly political—internet presence.
Chasten uses his various social-media accounts to poke fun at most everything, including his husband and the campaign trail lifestyle. In between photos of the couple’s two rescue dogs, Buddy and Truman, the newlywed is quick to blast Buttigieg for his quirks.
Chasten’s Instagram posts, which go as far back as 2012, allow curious voters a unique level of access to a potential first spouse.
In one typical post from September 2017, Chasten shared an image of Mayor Pete looking at his phone while shopping in a Target. The caption is the kicker: “I just need you to focus for like, two minutes.”