In a moment unprecedented for a presidential campaign, Pete Buttigieg got a question from a 9-year-old boy in Aurora, Colorado, asking for help coming out as gay.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold read Zachary Ro’s question: “Thank you for being so brave. Would you help me tell the world I am gay too? I want to be brave like you.”
Replied Buttigieg: “Well, I don’t think you need a lot of advice from me on bravery. You seem pretty strong. It took me a long time to figure out how to tell even my best friend that I was gay let alone to go out there and tell the world. To see you willing to come to terms with who you are in a room full of a thousand people, thousands of people you’ve never met, that’s really something.”
“So let me tell you a couple things that might be useful,” Buttigieg continued. “The first thing is that it won’t always be easy, but that’s OK because you know who you are. And that’s really important because when you know who you are, you have a center of gravity that can hold you together when all kinds of chaos is happening around you. The second thing I want you to know is that you’ll never know who’s taking their lead from you, who’s watching you and deciding that they can be a little braver because you have been brave.”
“When I was trying to figure out who I was, I was afraid that who I was might mean that I could never make a difference, and what wound up happening instead is it’s a huge part of the difference I get to make,” added Buttigieg. “I never could have seen that coming, and you’ll never know whose life you might be affecting right now just by standing here. There’s a lot of power in that. The last thing I want you to know is that even if I can’t promise it’s going to be easy, I’m going to promise that I’m going to be rooting for you.”
Zachary told KDVR backstage that he asked the question because “I just feel inspired by Pete being openly gay and running for president at the same time and someday I want to be like him. … I feel like he gave me some really good advice.”