With the words, "I am gay" published in his city's newspaper, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana has come out.
Pete Buttigieg, 33, told his constituents on his own terms, by writing an op-ed in the city's newspaper.
Named "the most interesting mayor you've never heard of" by the Washington Post, Buttigieg is a military veteran, and became the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with a population of more than 100,000 when he took office in 2012.
In his op-ed, Buttigieg wrote about growing up in conservative Indiana and his duty to support city residents — from LGBT people to older conservatives — by being honest about his sexual orientation.
"My high school in South Bend had nearly a thousand students," Buttigieg wrote in the South Bend Tribune.
"Statistically, that means that several dozen were gay or lesbian. Yet when I graduated in 2000, I had yet to encounter a single openly LGBT student there. That’s far less likely to be the case now, as more students come to feel that their families and community will support and care for them no matter what. This is a tremendously positive development: young people who feel support and acceptance will be less likely to harm themselves, and more likely to step into adulthood with mature self-knowledge.
"I was well into adulthood before I was prepared to acknowledge the simple fact that I am gay. It took years of struggle and growth for me to recognize that it’s just a fact of life, like having brown hair, and part of who I am."Putting something this personal on the pages of a newspaper does not come easy. We Midwesterners are instinctively private to begin with, and I’m not used to viewing this as anyone else’s business."
Buttigieg, a rising star in Indiana Democrat politics, served in Afghanistan as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves for seven months in 2014. While he was away, the deputy mayor ran the city.
He announced last November he is running to be re-elected to a second term, and in his op-ed epeatedly cited the progress LGBT people have made nationwide, and the upcoming Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. He does not say whether or not he is romantically involved with anyone.
"Like most people, I would like to get married one day and eventually raise a family. I hope that when my children are old enough to understand politics, they will be puzzled that someone like me revealing he is gay was ever considered to be newsworthy.
By then, all the relevant laws and court decisions will be seen as steps along the path to equality. But the true compass that will have guided us there will be the basic regard and concern that we have for one another as fellow human beings — based not on categories of politics, orientation, background, status or creed, but on our shared knowledge that the greatest thing any of us has to offer is love."
Buttigieg has been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate by pundits, but has not announced any plans to seek higher office.