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Passion for politics shines in 'Paul for Pete'

Pete Buttigieg, far left, and author Paul Barnes, far right, with other Buttigieg volunteers after a 2019 campaign appearance at Sparks High School, just east of Reno, Nevada.
Collection of Paul Barnes
Pete Buttigieg, far left, and author Paul Barnes, far right, with other Buttigieg volunteers after a 2019 campaign appearance at Sparks High School, just east of Reno, Nevada.

Airs 5 p.m. Friday: Crucial midterm elections are little more than a month away. How can individuals make an impact? “Paul for Pete” author Paul Mason Barnes lays it out in his book and gives advice on how to get involved on Out in the Bay Queer Radio + Podcast.

“When I first heard that he was really seriously considering a run,” says author Paul Mason Barnes of Pete Buttigieg, “I thought, wow, that’s fantastic! An openly gay mayor from South Bend, Indiana.” But his next thought was: “Not a snowball’s chance in hell.”

Barnes served on Pete Buttigieg’s ground-breaking presidential campaign and wrote a book on it, titled Paul for Pete: Politics. Theatre. Life. One Man’s Adventures (Or, How I Became A Septuagenarian Fanboy). His passion and that of many other volunteers swept Buttigieg into the national limelight.

Before joining Buttigieg’s campaign, Barnes told Out in the Bay's Eric Jansen, he had to reconsider his earlier assessment. “We elected a black president twice by overwhelming popular vote margins. We elected a female candidate [by] overwhelming margin popular vote, and then this failed real estate developer became our president,” Barnes reasoned. “So clearly to me, anything was possible in American politics.”

Barnes shares his adventure of trying to get Mayor Pete to the White House while an active, cross-country traveling theater director and with his husband suffering a stroke during the campaign. With critical midterm elections just weeks away, Barnes hopes to inspire others to get involved at the grassroots level by showing that individuals can make an impact.

Although not elected president, Buttigieg did make it to the White House. He now serves in President Biden’s Cabinet as Secretary of Transportation and is the first openly LGBTQ person to be confirmed to a Cabinet position.

"Paul for Pete" is also a memoir that delves into Barnes' long theater career, the trajectory of his life as an openly gay man — from before the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York through the AIDS pandemic and into marriage equality — and his 47-year relationship with husband Jim Edmondson, a founding member of Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Barnes credits their partnership's longevity in part to one of their key rules: "We always say yes to each other's opportunities."

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Out in the Bay is supported in part by Project Open Hand, which provides 2,500 life-saving meals and 200 bags of groceries daily to sustain people experiencing illness, social isolation, or the health challenges of aging. Learn more at OpenHand.org. Project Open Hand – Meals with Love

Eric Jansen is Out in the Bay Queer Radio+Podcast's founding producer. This episode was edited and hosted by Christopher Beale.

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Eric Jansen is a long-time broadcaster and print journalist. A former news anchor, producer and reporter at KQED FM, San Francisco; KLIV AM, San Jose; and Minnesota Public Radio, Eric's award-winning reports have been heard on many NPR programs and PRI's Marketplace. His print work has been in The Mercury News, The Business Journal, and LGBTQ magazines Genre and The Advocate, among other publications. He co-produced the June 2007 PBS documentary Why We Sing!, about LGBTQ choruses and their role in the civil rights fight.
Christopher J. Beale is an independent radio host, producer, and journalist living in San Francisco.