Karine Jean-Pierre
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Pete Buttigieg Sends Gay High School Activist Heartfelt Letter

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Incoming Harvard Student Zander Moricz

A Florida teen who made headlines this spring as the first out gay president of his school and who is suing the DeSantis administration for its "don't say gay" law received some encouragement from a man in the Biden administration who is also known for his firsts.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg sent a heartfelt thank-you and message of inspiration to Zander Moricz, the Florida teen who went viral for his graduation speech in which he spoke of his curly hair instead of using the word "gay" to highlight the ridiculousness of the state's anti-LGBTQ+ law.

"After Chasten and I saw your graduation speech earlier this year and heard about your appearance at the Department of Education, I wanted to be sure to personally thank you for your voice and advocacy. Your combination of wit and courage has reverberated across the country in ways that will benefit people you'll never even meet," Buttigieg wrote.

Buttigieg says that he's aware that his position as the first out gay cabinet secretary rests upon the work of those who came before him, "and there is no doubt that your example will open doors for many others who now look up to you, even as you are just starting your path forward following your graduation."

Moricz tweeted a photo of the letter with the caption "Thank you@PeteButtigieg. The fight for Florida has only begun."

In May, Moricz made headlines when the Pine View School senior was told he couldn't speak of his sexual orientation or that he was suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the state's new, infamous "don't say gay" law during his upcoming graduation speech.

After his story went viral, Moricz did give his graduation speech, but in an attempt to simultaneously show the ridiculousness of the law and comply with it, the Harvard-bound senior had a stroke of genius and would go viral again. Without using the word "gay," Moricz got his point across clearly, speaking instead of his curly hair as a euphemism for gay.

The speech became an internet sensation.

The young activist was also one of The Advocate's Advocates for Change.

Buttigieg sought the Democratic presidential nomination during the last election cycle, going farther in the race than any out candidate previously. After supporting Joe Biden's election, he became the first out gay cabinet secretary confirmed by the Senate.

President Biden has been a reliable ally to the LGBTQ+ community. Dr. Rachel Levine became the first transgender person confirmed by the Senate with Biden's nomination and her confirmation as assistant secretary for health. He's also announced executive orders supporting better protections for LGBTQ+ people.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Pete Buttigieg was the first out gay man to run for president. He was not. Fred Karger ran for the Republican nomination in 2012.

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