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Pete Buttigieg leaves deaf activist in tears after he thanks him for his support using sign language

Amy West April 27, 2019
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Gay Pete Buttigieg US president

Democratic Presidential candidate, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg could be the first openly gay US president. (Scott Eisen/Getty)

When deaf activist Anderson Pleasants reached out to Pete Buttigieg on Twitter a few weeks ago, he hoped he’d get a tweet back. But when the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana replied to him in sign language, he was overwhelmed.

On 15 April, Political Science and Communications student Pleasants sent a video of himself to Buttigieg via the social media platform. In it, he explained that he’d come up with a ‘sign name’ for the openly gay Democrat and that it ties in with the bridge-inspired presidential campaign logo.

“His sign name is P “bridged” across the chest to B,” Pleasants wrote, while demonstrating how to say it using ASL.

On 24 April, Buttigieg sent a video back, accompanied by a friendly ‘waving hand’ emoji. In it, he uses sign language to say: “Hi Andy, I appreciate your support. Thank you.”

“Pleasure’s all mine,” Pleasants sent back. “Honestly, when I first saw this video, I felt overwhelmed with emotion. I almost cried. I’ve never seen someone running for president use sign language before. A lot of politicians speak on inclusivity but very few talk the talk and walk the walk. Or in this case, sign the sign and walk the walk.

“To see you put effort to try and start to learn and use a language that’s crucial to how I and many others communicate, participate and identify in this world is just another example of why I’m thrilled to keep supporting and helping to spread your message.

“Hope you continue to learn about different cultures and communities and include them in your vision” – Anderson Pleasants

“I’d also be happy to teach you ASL later on. Take care and thank you again!”

Later, Pleasants added that that he “teared up” when he saw Buttigieg’s response: “It means so much to see a major Presidential candidate actively reach across the communication divide to include those like me, especially in a society where the burden of that divide so often rests on the Deaf individual.”

He wasn’t the only one bowled over by the gesture either. Deaf actor Marlee Marlin responded to the video too, saying: “Well, Pete Buttigieg, you’re the first candidate for President that I’ve ever seen sign.

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