Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has spoken about the challenges of coming out as gay, opening up during an interview with openly gay NBC political commentator Rachel Maddow.
Buttigieg, the Mayor of Southbend, Indiana, was approaching mayoral re-election in 2015 when he penned a moving op-ed for the local newspaper, revealing he was gay. He went on to be re-elected with 80 per cent of the vote, an even greater percentage than his first campaign.
“You went through college, and then the Rhodes Scholarship process and getting the Rhodes scholarship and going to work for McKinsey and joining the Navy and deploying to Afghanistan and coming home and running for mayor in your hometown and getting elected before you came out at the age of 33,” Maddow said to Buttigieg on her show Monday night.
“I think it would have killed me to be closeted for that long.”
“It was hard,” replied Buttigieg. “It was really hard.”
Maddow, the first openly gay Rhodes scholar, continued: “Coming out is hard, but being in the closet is harder."
Buttigieg, 37, agreed, explaining that it took “plenty of time to come out to myself.”
“There were certainly plenty of indications by the time I was 15 or so that I could point back and be like, ‘Yeah, yeah, this kid’s gay,’ but I guess I just needed to not be,” he said.
“There’s this war that breaks out, I think, inside a lot of people when they realise they might be something that they’re afraid of, and it took me a very long time to resolve that.”
Buttigieg formally announced his candidacy on April 14th, following a surge in the polls and impressive first-quarter fundraising numbers.