Pete Buttigieg has opened up about his coming out experience.
The 37-year-old Navy veteran is a Democratic candidate for the US presidential election in 2020, and if elected, will become the first openly gay president of the United States of America.
In a new MSNBC interview with Rachel Maddow, Pete talked personally and openly about coming out as gay later in life and how it affected his career.
When he came out publicly at the age of 33, Pete had already been through college, joined the navy and been deployed to Afghanistan, and been elected Mayor of South Bend, a town in Indiana.
He talked frankly in his interview about how his work had kept him so busy that that he didn’t really have much of a personal life. But eventually he had to be true to himself.
“It was really the deployment that put me over the top, I realised that you only get to be one person, you don’t know how long you have on this earth, and by the time I came back I realised I’ve got to do something,” he said.
Making the decision to open up to a few friends at first, he said they understood that it was a sensitive thing, as well as pointing out that he hadn’t made it easy for himself because he had two things that really mattered to him professionally.
“One was being an officer in the military, in the reserve, and the other was being an elected official in Indiana, neither of which is exactly LGBT friendly,” he said, “both of which I assumed were totally incompatible with being out”.
He wasn’t sure about how his coming out would effect his re-election and whether the people would accept him.
“I was pretty sure it was going to be a big complication, but I had no idea … there’s no way to really know, there’s no playbook, I mean no executive in Indiana had ever been out and so it was kind of a leap of faith,” he continued.
However Pete, despite his concerns, was re-elected with 80% of the votes, which was more than he was originally elected with.
Pete also spoke in the interview about how he hopes change will come and how coming out will become easier for people:
“One day the way this will work, is if a Mayor is trying to figure out how to come out, you go to the next rubber chicken dinner you’re going to, and your date’s the same sex, and thats that right, people shrug, figure it out and get on with the evening.
“One of the things I think I can do before the first vote is cast, is maybe make it a little easier just by being here for the next person who comes along.”
The interview was a historic moment in presidential campaign interviewing, as it was the first time an openly gay presidential candidate was questioned by an openly gay television interviewer about the experience of coming out.